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EDITORIAL
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 67-68

Food safety for a better tomorrow: Time to act


Department of Community Medicine, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara Medical College, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara University, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication10-Apr-2015

Correspondence Address:
Praveen Kulkarni
Department of Community Medicine, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara Medical College, Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara University, Mysore, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2278-344X.154907

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How to cite this article:
Kulkarni P, Kumar SD. Food safety for a better tomorrow: Time to act. Int J Health Allied Sci 2015;4:67-8

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni P, Kumar SD. Food safety for a better tomorrow: Time to act. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Jul 6];4:67-8. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2015/4/2/67/154907

"Food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution have been globalized".

-WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan

Rapid globalization of commerce and pursuant movement of food worth abiout 1 trillion US dollars in the last 2 decades called for more scrutiny of the safety of foods. [1] Food safety is a growing concern of global health, which directly and indirectly affects health and wellbeing of populace. Interim results of an ongoing survey of World Health Organization (WHO) conducted through Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) are quite bothersome and clearly draw the attention of various stakeholders in food manufacturing and processing industries. Some important results are related to enteric infections caused by viruses, bacteria, and protozoa that enter the body by ingestion of contaminated food. The initial FERG figures, from 2010, show that:

  • There were an estimated 582 million cases of 22 different foodborne enteric diseases and 351,000 associated deaths
  • The enteric disease agents responsible for most deaths were  Salmonella More Details typhi (52,000 deaths), enteropathogenic E. coli (37,000), and norovirus (35,000)
  • The African region recorded the highest disease burden for enteric foodborne disease, followed by southeast Asia
  • Over 40% people suffering from enteric diseases caused by contaminated food were children aged under 5 years. [2]


India is one of the world's largest food producers (601 million tons) next to China (856 million tons) and USA (608 million tons); second largest producer of fruits (46.64 million tons) after Brazil; and second largest producer of vegetables (78.19 million tons) in the world, next to China. [3]

Rising incomes and urbanization, an expanding domestic consumer base concerned about food quality and safety, and rapidly growing agricultural exports have been important drivers for the increased attention to food safety in India. But the development of effective food safety systems is hampered by a number of factors, including: Restrictive government marketing regulations, weak policy, and regulatory framework for food safety, inadequate enforcement of existing standards, a multiplicity of government agencies involved, weak market infrastructure, and agricultural support services. The small farm structure further limits farmer capacity to meet increasing domestic and export food safety requirements [Figure 1]. [3],[4]
Figure 1: Food supply chain and possibilities of hazards

Click here to view


In view of growing concern of food safety, Government of India made several efforts to address the issue by bringing in various central Acts like Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954; Fruit Products Order, 1955; Meat Food Products Order, 1973; Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947; Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1988; Solvent Extracted Oil, De-Oiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967; and Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992. All these acts were subsequently merged under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. To fulfill the objectives of these acts some institutional arrangement has been done; they are:

  • Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)
  • Ministry of Food Processing Industry (MFP)
  • Export Inspection Council (EIC)
  • Codex Alimentarius
  • Directorate of Marketing and Inspection: Establishing AGMARK Grades.


The organizations mentioned above are mainly responsible for setting up of standards and laws that the firms are expected to comply with. These aim at regulating sanitary and hygienic conditions at all levels of supply chain, and lay down the minimum requirements for, sanitary and hygienic conditions of premises, surrounding environment and personnel, water to be used for processing, machinery and equipment, and product standards. [5]

Keeping in mind the need for improving food safety and standards from the stage of production to consumption, WHO has announced its theme for World Health Day 2015 as "Farm to Plate: Make Food Safe". This call for efforts to prevent such emergencies can be strengthened; however, through development of robust food safety systems that drive collective government and public action to safeguard against chemical or microbial contamination of food. Global and national level measures can be taken, including using international platforms, like the joint WHO-Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), to ensure effective and rapid communication during food safety emergencies. [1]

Addressing food safety concerns in India will require adoption of appropriate legislation, strengthening capacity to enforce rules, promoting adoption of good agricultural, manufacturing and hygiene practices, greater collective action, and some targeted investments. Implementing these actions will require joint efforts by the government and the private sector.

India being a country with diverse socioeconomic background, wide spectrum of agricultural practices, varied food storage and processing habits, and dynamic climatic conditions with vibrant changes in eating and lifestyle practices needs a special and specific attention towards food safety and standards. Thus, the theme of this year's World Health Day surely helps developing countries like India to strengthen their food and agriculture sector for providing safe and hygienic food for their growing populace.

 
  References Top

1.
URL available from: https://iafp.confex.com/iafp/2014/webprogram/Session2000.html [Last accessed on 2015 Apr 02, 17.50 hrs].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
URL available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/food-safety/en/[Last accessed on 2015 Apr 02, 16.40 hrs].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
URL available from: http://www.fssai.gov.in/portals/0/pdf/food-act.pdf [Last accessed on 2015 Apr 02, 16.50 hrs].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
URL available from: http://www.fssai.gov.in/[Last accessed on 2015 Apr 01, 16.50 hrs].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
URL available from: http://www.cccindia.co/corecentre/Database/Docs/DocFiles/FOODSAFETY.pdf [Last accessed on 2015 Apr 02, 17.50 hrs].  Back to cited text no. 5
    


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