From farm to plate, make food safe
World Health Day will be celebrated on 7th April, with World Heath Organization highlighting the challenges faced with regard to food safety under the slogan “From farm to plate, make food safe.”
With the industrialization food production and its distribution going global, there are ample chances that the food will get contaminated with harmful bacteria, virus and chemicals making food unsafe for human consumption.
World Health Organization has confirmed that a local food safety problem can rapidly become an international emergency. Investigation of an outbreak of food borne disease is vastly more complicated when a single plate or package of food contains ingredients from multiple countries.
The unsafe food can contain harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, and cause more than 200 diseases - ranging from diarrhea to cancers.
In Bhutan the situation is even bad as most of the food products are imported either from India or other countries. It has been estimated that Bhutan’s food trade deficit increases steadily over the years, food sufficiency still continues to be a major issue. With an increase of 24.4 percent from 2012, Bhutan’s total food trade deficit increased to Nu.5.2 billion from Nu.4.2 billion in 2012. Bhutan imported essential food items worth Nu.6.3 billion in 2013, an increase of 22.9 percent from the previous year as reported in the annual report for 2013-2014 of the central bank of Bhutan.
Keeping this data into review, food safety would play an important role in the health and hygiene of our small population. The concerned agencies like the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) should have technical expertise and specialized food testing laboratories to handle these issues. As these require lots of investments the solution may not be too easy to come too soon.
As a part of the global strategy and to reduce the burden of water borne disease we will have to communicate simple health messages based on scientific evidence to train all types of food handles including the consumers .
Further general public should be made access to food safety education in order to produce safe food for the community.
As we celebrated the World Health Day, concerted efforts must be made to consume food that are local and free from pesticides making our life healthy and saving our scare resources for our future generations.