Thursday, September 24, 2009


Food safety concerns are exercising the minds of the consumers, industry and the national governments all over the world. The fact that safety management is not effective is borne out by the spate of food poisoning and costly recalls of suspected products from the market during the last 2-3 years. It is true that there are well laid down guidelines under the GMP and HACCP protocols as to how foods are to be handled for avoiding food contamination and ensure their safety to the consumers. Unfortunately most of the food industry do not follow these practices in spite of their proven benefits. If voluntary efforts do not yield results, it is time governments step in to protect the consumers through mandatory action.

Even a country like the US is vulnerable to management failure when it comes to ensuring safety to the consumers from food contamination, reflects the magnitude of the problem and suggestions are made from time to time for addressing these concerns. "A single agency that handles food safety in America would probably have a better chance of addressing nationwide cases of food-borne illness, such as the hundreds of cases of salmonella poisoning resulting from contamination at a peanut factory in Georgia earlier this year. That's especially true if that agency didn't have to rely on corporations to voluntarily recall unsafe food products. We've long advocated for the consolidation of the food safety system under a single government agency, creation of a national food-tracking system, and the granting of authority to federal agencies to recall food products".

In a country like India effective consumer protection measures just do not exist with several agencies involved with practically no coordination. Added to this no reliable recording and reporting system exists to understand the seriousness of food borne illnesses caused by consumption of unsafe raw as well as processed foods. With the food portfolio coming under the State government jurisdiction, there is precious little GOI can do in this regard. It is time that a national approach is considered for monitoring and enforcing food safety uniformly across the country, rather than leaving it to the States, most of which seem to have other priorities.

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