Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday directed the authorities concerned to curb food adulteration in Bangladesh with an iron hand alongside creating awareness among businesspeople against such offences.
“You’ll have to make them [unscrupulous businesspeople] understand about such offences on one hand and curb that with an iron hand on the other. It’s essential to take both measures simultaneously,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing a programme held at Hotel Intercontinental in the city, marking the National Food Safety Day-2021. She joined the event virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban.
This year, the day is being observed with the theme of ”Teksoi Unnyan-Somriddho Desh, Nirapod Khadyer Bangladesh” (Bangladesh: A country of sustainable prosperity and safe food).
Sheikh Hasina said unscrupulous businesspeople sell adulterated or rotten food to earn extra money harming the public health. “But it’s needed to make them realise that they can make the same profit by spending money on the sale of safe food.”
Divisional-level Food-Testing Lab
Mentioning that a central food testing laboratory is being set up in the country, the Prime Minister instructed the relevant authorities to take steps for setting up one food testing laboratory in every divisional city as well.
Sheikh Hasina said it is also essential to set up a food-testing laboratory in every divisional city as the government is developing 100 economic zones giving importance to food-processing industries.
Laboratory testing certification is essential to export agricultural products, most importantly the food items, the Prime Minister said adding that there will be a scope for setting up food-testing systems up to rural level.
Referring to the safe food plan being implemented in 100 food-related industries, Hasina asked the authorities concerned to execute it throughout the country gradually. “It’ll have to be taken up to the village level,” she said.
Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque and Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim also spoke at the function presided over by Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder. Food Secretary Dr Nazmanara Khanum delivered the welcome speech.
The Prime Minister distributed prizes among the winners of a quiz contest and essay competition arranged marking the 4th National Food Safety Day. On behalf of the Prime Minister, the Food Minister handed over the prizes to the winners.
Emphasis on balanced diet
Mentioning that the government is giving importance to ensuring nutrition, the Prime Minister directed the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority to go for a massive awareness campaign over balanced diet in the country alongside conducting laboratory testing.
Stressing the importance of safe transportation of processed food items, she said the government will develop the postal services further so that it can reach the food items safely to different destinations.
Optimisation of land use
Sheikh Hasina urged the people not to keep even a single inch of land uncultivated so that no food crisis can hit the country under any circumstances.
She also asked the relevant authorities to expand their activities to use grading stickers at hotels and restaurants everywhere in the country, including the capital.
Highlighting her government’s various activities and successes in the food sector, the Prime Minister said her government had found the food deficit of 40 lakh metric tonnes in the country when it assumed power in 1996, and left behind a food surplus of 26 lakh metric tonnes in 2001. But her government found the food deficit of 24 lakh metric tonnes again in 2009, she said.
Hasina said the previous governments never wanted Bangladesh to be self-reliant in food as they were more interested in food import to help some of their people to make money from the import.
AL for people
“I would like to say unequivocally that the Awami League government is not there in power to make business but to serve people as their assister,” she said.
The PM said her government enacted the Food Safety Act 2013 (repealing the Pure Food Ordinance 1959), established the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority in 2015 (as a coordinating authority under the act to ensure the rights of safe foods), formulated three rules and seven regulations (probidhanmala), and gave importance on researches.