World Food Safety Day 2019: Ending hunger, preventing disease, promoting sustainable agriculture are India's focus areas, says expert

The inaugural edition of World Food Safety Day, an initiative established by the United Nations to shed light on the importance of safe food and reduce the problems related to it, will be marked on 7 June this year. The theme of this year's celebrations is 'Food Safety, Everyone’s Business' highlighting the importance of collective action to reduce the problems posed by the issue and to ensure development goes hand-in-hand with good health for all. The UN expects that individuals and organisations at various levels will be involved in tackling the issue quickly and effectively.

Cases of foodborne disease are estimated at around 600 million annually, making it exceptionally important to combat this issue. Not only does it cause health issues, but it is also directly linked with many of the Sustainable Development Goals, namely, ending hunger, preventing diseases, promoting fair trade and improving sustainable agriculture. This makes it essential for all to promote World Food Safety.

 World Food Safety Day 2019: Ending hunger, preventing disease, promoting sustainable agriculture are Indias focus areas, says expert

On the occasion of the inaugural World Food Safety Day, Dr Sankar Chandra Deka, Professor from Tezpur University, Assam had strong views about the importance of food safety and how it should be promoted. Being a senior member in the Department of Food Engineering and Technology also makes him deeply knowledgeable on the matter.

We spoke with him about the UN initiative, to which he had this to say:

Why is it so important for the United Nations to implement World Food Safety Day?

Dr Sankar Deka (SD): Food safety is integral in the maintenance of good health and overall wellness. By ensuring food safety, many food-borne diseases can be prevented. Further, it is linked to many aspects of development. Therefore, in improving food safety, the health of individuals too can improve along with the development of the country.

What are your thoughts on India’s efforts currently to promote food safety?

SD: While the government is launching initiatives to promote food safety, as of now, they are not very effective. The level of policy needs to be higher to be effective. Initiatives such as the Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan have helped tackle this problem. However, more awareness has to be raised with stricter policies being imposed to truly have a greater impact on the country’s food safety. This could be made more effective by adding the importance of food safety in the curriculum of educational institutes so that awareness can be raised.

Masalas Indian Market Food Safety Adulteration

This year, the theme of the event is ‘Food Safety, Everyone’s Business’. Why is this important and to what extent is it true?

SD: This is extremely important as an initiative such as this one will raise mass awareness. By giving information about this issue to individuals at many levels, collective action can be effectively achieved. It is also important to educate people on the other issues that are linked with food safety, such as health, development and sustainable agriculture. By having an international day to shed light on this issue, it raises the awareness level of people, particularly of middle-income families, so that the power of collective action can be effectively used while tackling this issue.

How can food safety be effectively ensured at an individual level?

SD: Ensuring the cleanliness and hygiene of produce and cleanliness during food preparation and storage is a simple yet effective way of reducing the risk of contamination by food. However, the most effective way to tackle this issue would be to raise awareness. This could be done through education of children at home and my making food safety an important part of educational curricula. Raising awareness would be an easy way to make fast progress and tackle this issue.

The inaugural World Food Safety Day is being observed on 7 June, 2019, with an event being conducted in New York, as well as information being spread on how to tackle this issue.

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Updated Date: Jun 07, 2019 16:31:34 IST