From farm to plate, make food safe

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

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.

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