Mass campaign ahead for safe food as institutions inadequate

Dhaka,  Mon,  25 September 2017
Published : 19 Aug 2017, 23:11:29
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Mass campaign ahead for safe food as institutions inadequate

MCCI, FICCI take the lead to rally all parties in the combat, launching confce Aug 23
FE Report


Two leading trade chambers have moved to rally all concerned, including businesspeople and regulators, and launch a coordinated campaign for ensuring safe food for consumers alongside supply of foodstuffs.            

The organisers of the campaign think Bangladesh ensured food but safe food remained a far cry, and so they are taking the lead in building up mass awareness and sensitising the businesses about the urgency of safe food.

With this end in view, a maiden meet titled Bangladesh Food Safety Conference 2017 is going to be held in Dhaka on August 23-24 under the aegis of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Dhaka, and the Foreign Investors' Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

The conference is aimed at facilitating discussions among the stakeholders on how to develop an efficient and effective food-safety-control system for improved public health and enhanced consumer protection.

The organisers announced the two-day conference focused on 'Protecting Consumers: A Shared Responsibility' at a press meet at the MCCI office in the city Saturday.

They said the two chambers-MCCI and the FICCI-are organizing the meet in collaboration with Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA), the Ministry of Food,

Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) and the Ministry of Industries.

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu is expected to open the conference at Sonargaon Hotel.  Food Minister Advocate Md. Qamrul Islam would attend the meet as special guest.

MCCI Secretary-General Faruk Ahmed, Chairman of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque, Director of Standard, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution, ANM Asaduzzaman, President of the FICCI Rupali Chowdhury and Secretary of the Organising Committee of the National Food Safety Conference 2017 Naquib Khan spoke at the press meet.  

Mr Naquib Khan spoke on the purpose of this conference.  He said Bangladesh ensured food safe but safe food is still a far cry.

"We need to initiate coordinated actions to ensure safe food for all," he told the journalists.

He said this is for the first time in Bangladesh a conference is being held to bring together the food industry with the regulators and two chambers to open a dialogue on the importance of working together to enhance the quality of food and safety for the consumers.

Separate sessions in the conference will deal with topics relevant to the Bangladeshi food industry, with discussions moderated by industry experts, regulators, as well as using case studies from countries in the region to study best practices.

The sessions will discuss 'Global Food Safety Challenges', 'Strengthening Food Safety Management in Bangladesh', 'Strengthening food safety management in Bangladesh', Harmonising food standards in Bangladesh with International norms', 'Sharing Experience with food control from countries in the region', 'Ensuring Food Safety: A farm-to-fork approach'.

National and international experts will speak in these sessions.  

The conference has been sponsored by Nestle, Coca-Cola, GSK and Pepsico as diamond sponsors, and Frooto, Unilever, Square, Akij Group, Perfetti van Melle, Meghna Group of Industries, Aarong Dairy, Globe and IFAD as gold sponsors and Polar, New Zealand Dairy, Lalmai Group, Marks, Shwapno and PUSTI as silver sponsors.

Mr Faruk Ahmed said this conference is a great opportunity for starting the journey in raising awareness around food safety.

"Food safety is essential for good health and we must view it as a duty to ensure it for the consumers, but it can only be a successful effort if the awareness around food safety is spread at every level-from producers to manufacturers to regulators and consumers."

Chairman of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque said awareness among people is the only way safe food can be ensured.

"Food safety in Bangladesh is a tough challenge and a very complex task to complete."

He said there are 2.5 million people involved with food business, along with 18 ministries, 486 organisations and more than 120 laws, rules and regulations in food safety.

"All these arms have to work together along with 160 million people to ensure safe food," he said.

BSTI Director ANM Asaduzaman said regulatory bodies like BSTI alone cannot fight for food safety or ensure it.

"What we need the most is to raise awareness about food safety, so that the consumers are more aware. This conference will go a long way in raising that awareness."

FICCI President Rupali Chowdhury said the purpose of this collaborative effort is not to just do one conference and forget about the issue but to raise awareness among the masses regarding food safety.

Bangladesh Food Safety Authority Chairman Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque said that there is no scope to adulterate vegetable and fruits by mixing formalin, a health hazardous chemical.

"It is impossible to adulterate fruits and vegetables with formalin.. a lot of misleading information has been spread about food safety... but we have found in investigation and research with the assistance of the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] that there is no scope to adulterating fruits and vegetables by formalin," he said.

He said many people have almost stopped eating vegetable and fruits fearing formalin adulteration, although these are big sources of necessary micronutrients. These micronutrients cannot be filled up with any other food sources.

He said apple does not get rot because of paraffin wax which is used on apple because the fruit is imported from long distance. There is no formalin also in mangos too.

"These fruits have natural formalin," he said adding that people are using faulty kits for detecting formalin.

About the rumor that there is artificial egg in the market, Mr Hoque said that wrong conception prevails among many about presence of artificial eggs and use of colour in water melon.

"We have found through investigation that there is no real basis of these. The eggs cannot be replaced with other foods," he said.

He urged journalists to raise real problems and create awareness among people.

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