Food safety is essential to dealing with hazards that make food unsafe for health. An increase in food poisoning cases across the country is fearful as food safety standards are being challenged. The unsafe food not only harms in the short-term but creates a vicious cycle of foodborne diseases that might take an individual's life. According to a journal of medical science, about 2 million deaths happen every year in India due to consuming contaminated food and water.
According to a report published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), over half a million deaths occur every year globally due to unsafe food, where children under five are most affected. In India, households have an alarming 13.2 per cent prevalence of hazardous food practices. There should be an initiative of public health surveillance for foodborne diseases and unsafe food with a parallel significance of consumer awareness.
In India, the food industry is regulated by numerous legislations which monitor the permits, licensing, and sanitation issues. The government also runs the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to monitor and regulate food processing, manufacturing, storage and market distribution. Despite a monitoring body to ensure safe food, public awareness must prevail. In recent times, several Indian states, including Telangana, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, came to the headline for the causality of civilians due to consuming food in public places. The people being part of the causality due to consuming unsafe food must be a lesson to all for maintaining hygienic food practices.
In a recent blow to the food safety standards in Telangana, as many as 120 students of girls' high school at Siddipet fell sick after having lunch in the afternoon. They were taken to a government hospital, where many are still undergoing medical treatment. The state's health minister, T Harish Rao, ordered the school to submit a report on the food poisoning incident and appealed to parents not to worry as their wards are safe under the government's supervision.
Reportedly, the death of one 16-year-old occurred on May 1, 2022, in Kerala after consuming chicken shawarma allegedly from an eatery house, 'Ideal Food Point' in Kasargod. Along with the deceased, over 40 people in Kerala were reported to be critical and were hospitalised. Following this, the state Health Department recognised the cause of food poisoning. As per the medical officer, Dr AV Ramdas, the food poisoning after eating chicken shawarma was due to a bacterium called shigella.
According to a health official, over 95 children fell sick after consuming 'Pani Puri' at a fair in the Madla district of Madhya Pradesh. They all ate the snacks from the same shop sometime in the evening, and the children started suffering from stomach pain and vomiting at around 7:30 pm, reported The Economic Times. The children were sent to a district hospital, and the police detained the snack seller. Later, the government ordered quality testing of similar snacks, which could become a more significant concern.
Food safety is not a concern only for a country like India; the whole world is facing a similar issue. A WHO report suggests that in the South-East Asia Region, nearly 150 million people fell ill with foodborne diseases in 2010, which led to 175 000 deaths. In response to the global concern, every country now monitors its food safety standards to ensure public health safety.
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