Food contamination and food adulteration situation of Bangladesh is a serious public health concern. Unsafe/contaminated food causes many acute and life-long diseases, ranging from diarrhoeal diseases to various forms of cancer. An estimate shows that globally food-borne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases taken together kill about 2.2 million people annually, of them 1.9 million are children. However, in Bangladesh dependable assessment of the public health impact due to food contamination is not available due to absence of a regular monitoring system. The data from ICDDR,B indicate that 501 hospital visits per day for treatment of diarrhoea that were attributable to food and water borne causes. General scenario on food contamination demonstrates a widespread non compliance with hygienic practice in food handling both among food producers and food traders such as street food traders.
Food adulteration with harmful chemicals is also common in Bangladesh. The chronic effect of such events such as cancer, kidney disorders and birth defects is unlikely to be observed in short term, because the manifestation of the disease only occurs after long-term, low-level exposure. Food contamination and consumers exposure to food hazards have major implication on the food security and consumers heath in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Food Safety Network (BFSN)
Tackling the above situation and fostering the safe food movement in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Food Safety Network (BFSN) was formed in Bangladesh following a two-day long Workshop titled `Building a Food Safety Network in Bangladesh’ held on 09-10 November 2010 in Dhaka organized by CAB with the initiative of FAO Food Safety Project.
Through a guided exercise, the participants felt the need to harmonize and unite the like-minded initiatives, interventions and experiences on food safety for maximum utilization of existing resources and expertise to strengthen the movement of food safety. The participants of the Workshop formed a Steering Committee (SC) with three leading umbrella organization/network in this field (CAB, UBINIG and BESAFE Foundation) to lead the activities of the newly formed BFSN. CAB has been supporting Secretarial function to BFSN. At present BFSN consists of 5 Member Organizations viz. CAB, UBINIG, BSAFE Foundation, Hunger Free World and SHISUK.
BFSN was formally launched on 15 October 2011 at LGED Auditorium where Mr. Dilip Barua, former Minister, Ministry of Industries, was present as Chief Guest. Mr. Dominique Burgeon, the then FAO Representative in Bangladesh was present as the Special Guest. Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, former Adviser to the Caretaker Government chaired the inaugural session. The day-long events were attended by 357 delegates representing Government Officers, representatives from socio-cultural and other organizations drawn from 55 districts. International Advisers and the National Advisers of FAO Food Safety Project, CAB President Late Mr. Quazi Faruque, Executive Director of UBINIG Ms. Farida Akhter, Chairman of BSAFE Foundation Mr. Joynal Abedin were also present among others.
Food Safety Advocacy Seminars in Districts
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) has organized several Food Safety Advocacy Seminars in different districts on behalf of Bangladesh Food Safety Network (BFSN) across the country. Deputy Commissioners of respective districts with other officers of districts administration, officials of Department of Agriculture Extension, Department of Livestock Services, Department of Fisheries, Department of Health Services, Dept. of Marketing, Food Safety Inspectors, Sanitary Inspectors, representatives from District Chambers, CSOs, NGOs, teachers, journalists and students were present in the seminars.