Bangladesh needs to ensure safe food for its people by 2041 to achieve its goal of becoming a developed country, said Food Minister Quamrul Islam on Thursday.
Ensuring food safety is possible with raising awareness and everyone’s support, he said while speaking as the chief guest at a seminar titled ‘Drive against Food Adulteration: Institutional Crisis’.
Desh Info and Watchdog Bangladesh jointly organised the seminar.
“Bangladesh is becoming a middle-income and developing country while we’re marching forward to become developed one by 2041. So, we’ve to ensure food safety in our country like other developing and developed countries,” said Quamrul Islam.
The minister also said the government will categorise restaurants in Motijheel areas based on their performance of safe and quality food production and supply.
"In the Motijheel areas, the Safe Food Authority is conducting research on 200 restaurants. The best food processors will be marked as the ‘Green’ one, the better one as ‘Yellow’ one and the bad one as the ‘Red’," he said.
The minister added that if any restaurant fails to maintain the standard of food it will be marked as ‘Red’ and the owner will be given one month’s time to improve its standard and if it fails to improve, the restaurant will be sealed off.
Mentioning the existing Food Safety Act as complex one, the minister said Bangladesh will soon succeed in making the law completely effective. “To make the law effective, the most important thing is to create public awareness. Without creating public awareness, ensuring food safety, adulteration and pollution-free food is not possible.”
The government is undertaking various training and awareness-building programmes for those involved in producing, manufacturing, packaging, preserving and serving food, said the minister.
He also said a huge number of people in the country depend on street foods and that is why safe street foods are also needed to be ensured.
Citing a 2004 study of World Health Organization (WHO), Rashed Chowdhury, Editor of the online web portal Desh Info, in his keynote paper said every year around 3 lakh people get affected by cancer only because of consuming adulterated food, while 1.50 lakh by diabetes and around 2 lakh kidney diseases.
Around 15 lakh physically-challenged children are born as a result of food adulteration, he added.
While a total of 18 ministries and agencies of the government are working to ensure food safety, these organisations should be made accountable alongside increasing their efficiency, Rashed Chowdhury added.
Chairman of Poribesh Banchao Andolon (Poba) Abu Naser Khan urged the government to make the reports public after testing food products and prevent the use of harmful materials and pesticides during food manufacturing.
Prof Khaleda Islam of Dhaka University’s Institute of Nutrition and Food Science (INFS), Chairman of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque and Assistant Director of BSTI Reazul Haque, among others, spoke at the programme.