Safe food saves life | Daily News

Safe food saves life

Food safety is a must for all and food safety should be our main concern at all times. The safety of food becomes very important during the festive season when dansals offer food to the public to mark the Vesak Festival.

“A special food inspection programme was implemented by the Public Health Department of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) during the festive season to ensure safe and hygienic food,” City Food Safety and Hygiene Promotion Unit Medical Officer-in-Charge Dr. Subash Mendis said.

Colombo Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni, six Medical Officers of Health and 40 Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) participated in this programme. Sixty-five wholesale and retail shops in Fort and Pettah were inspected on April 9. The number of prosecutions was 21. During the inspections, food items which belong to 34 shops were destroyed.

“Approximately 800 kg of fruits such as apples, oranges, mandarins and grapes, 134 kg of dry fish, short eats including vegetable rottis, egg rottis and samosas, and about 250 paratas weighing 15 kg were among the items which were destroyed,” he said.

The inspection teams examined 32 supermarkets on April 10. Cases were filed against six and notices were issued to 12 places. Unhygienic food items in four supermarkets were also destroyed.

“The main issues identified by the inspectors were overfilled storerooms, storing under unhygienic conditions, deep freezers overcrowded with food items, storing raw and ready-to-eat items together, malfunctioning meat and fish display chillers and label regulation violations,” he said.

The same programme will be implemented during this month to ensure the safety of food offered to the public by dansals.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry filed cases against 2,821 businessmen who sold unhealthy food and sealed 21 eateries during the past festive season. The Ministry commenced raids on March 15 with the participation of 1,700 PHIs and 50 food and drug inspectors. They inspected 1,412 eateries till April 10. They issued red notices to 616 businessmen who had substandard-cooked and uncooked foods.

The programme was implemented with the intention of assuring food safety and hygiene during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year season.

There are laws and standards to ensure food safety in Sri Lanka. They are as follows:

* The primary law is the Food Act No.26 of 1980

* Regulations are published in Section 32 of the Food Act

* There are 32 food regulations

* Food Advisory Committee (FAC)

* Sub-committees

* Standards established by the Sri Lanka Standards Institution(SLSI)

* National Food Safety Policy

* National CODEX Committee (NCC) Chairperson and Secretary

* National CODEX Contact Point (NCCP)

In addition, there is import control and related laws to ensure food safety in Sri Lanka. They are as follows:

* Imports and Exports (Control) Act, 1969

* Post-arrival, all imported foods in the market are subjected to inspection

* Involvement of many ministries, departments and other institutions (Agriculture Department, Animal Production and Health Department, SLSI and the Health Ministry)

* Inspections of plant or animal imports by the Quarantine Unit of the Health Ministry– prior notification

* Sri Lanka is a signatory to the National Trade Facilitation Agreement (NTFA) of the World Trade Organization

The local mechanism implemented to ensure food safety includes 1,800 authorised officers countrywide. Under the Food Act, all food establishments should be registered. All bottled water brands have to be registered.

The export controls include:

* Registration of exporters under the Imports and Exports Control Act

* Signing or countersigning of export certificates by the FCAU

* Factory inspections


Food poisoning

* Some of the common germs that cause food poisoning are:

* Norovirus - It is the leading cause of gastroenteritis or what we commonly think of as stomach flu symptoms

* Salmonella - An infection caused by a bacterium of the genus Salmonella

* Clostridium Perfringens

* Campylobacter

* Staphylococcus aureus

* Vibrio cholera

* If you think you suffer from food poisoning or an allergic reaction to food, call your doctor. If it is an emergency, call Suwaseriya - 1990. If you or someone you know fell ill after eating a certain food, contact the PHI or MOH of the relevant area.

* The symptoms are vomitting, nausea, stomach cramps, fever, headache and diarrhea. The symptoms can start between 30 minutes and six hours after ingestion and usually, last only for one day. Cramps in the stomach and gut, diarrhoea and vomit may start as early as one hour after eating tainted food and as late as 10 days or longer depending on the cause of the infection.


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