An overview on Food Poisoning in Bangladesh
Mondol, Md. Bokhtiar Uddin
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The number of food poisoning notifications rose steadily worldwide since the inception of E. coli (O157:H7) outbreak in the 1980s to date. This may be partly attributed to improved surveillance, increased global trade and travel, changes in modern food production, the impact of modern lifestyles, changes in food consumption, and the emergence of new pathogens. Approximately, 30 million people in Bangladesh are suffering from foodborne illnesses each year. Diarrheal diseases are the most common food poisoning cases in Bangladesh and in some cases, these can cause death. The diseases are caused by either toxin from the microbe or by the human body’s reactions to the microbe. The traditional processing methods that are used in the preparation, inappropriate holding temperature, and poor personal hygiene of food handlers are some of the main causes of contamination of street foods. A substance added to a food-item to reduce its quality in order to increase its quantity is called as an adulterant. This act of addition of the adulterant in food-items is known as food adulteration. In Bangladesh, most of the foodstuffs, be they manufactured or processed, are unsafe for consumption or adulterated to varying degrees. This problem persists at every level of the food chain from preparation to consumption. Food manufacturers, processors, restaurants, fast food outlets and so forth are all involved in one way or another in this corrupt practice of adulteration. Foods are adulterated by using various harmful chemicals and toxic artificial colors, on the one hand, and rotten perishables turned to poisonous foods are stored, sold and served to consumers in an unhygienic atmosphere, on the other. The unhygienic and unsafe treatment of food is seriously impacting public health by causing numerous chronic and non-chronic diseases. Despite different reasons for the unsafe treatment and adulteration of foodstuffs in Bangladesh, this study will concentrate on the regulatory failures to combat the current food safety problems persisting in Bangladesh. The major reason for the intentional addition of these adulterants is for increasing the profit margin on the expense of the health of the public or consumer. Food adulteration has become a new problem in the country. Some adulterants enter via agricultural steps, as they are not cleaned well. These are visible adulterants like stones, leaves, soil, sand and dust to name a few. The consumer can clean them and this makes it less harmful. Other adulterants that are intentionally added are invisible or they are made invisible by astutely camouflaging with the color or texture. They are generally harmful for the health and most of them lead to serious health problems like cancer. However, there are hardly any food items from fish to meat, vegetables to milk,biscuits to juice that are not adulterated in one way or another. The hotels and restaurants are also serving these poisonous and unhealthy menus. Different reports show that adulterated foods are causing serious diseases including diarrhea and dysentery round the year. And adulterant reduces the quality of the food and this weakens the health of the one who consumes them, thereby increasing the cost for healthcare. Regular intake of an adulterated food can lead to many health problems. From curable to incurable disorders and diseases can ruin one’s lifestyle and life as well. Recently, the government and general public have been much worried about this issue. Food adulteration increases the burden of health in the society.