The Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA), in association with Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), has taken an initiative to train professionals and other people associated with the food supply chain across the country as well as to create awareness on food safety.
Besides, the two organisations will set up a digital surveillance system, create a database, some mobile laboratories and call centres at the district, upazila, city corporations and municipality levels to ensure food safety under a project titled Strengthening the Inspection, Regulatory and Coordinating (STIRC), said STIRC Project Director Monzur Morshed Ahmed at a workshop on Thursday.
Under the training programme, 1,640 people will receive direct training, 8,000 through workshops and 1.5 lakh food producers, traders, employees, hoteliers, fruit sellers and other stakeholders at various upazila levels will be trained.
To eliminate adulteration and contamination in food, one mobile laboratory will be set up in each of the eight divisions for the convenience of instantaneous analysis of food production and food items through this project.
Apart from that, there are also plans to set up online call centres for accurate information and research to allay public fears and suspicions about adulterated food.
On 3 February, the Jica signed a Record of Discussions with Bangladesh on the project as a technical cooperation project. The works of the project started in July and are expected to end in December 2024.
In his speech as the chief guest, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said BFSA has been created as the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution alone cannot succeed in ensuring food safety.
"We want people to produce and supply safe food naturally, not by punishing anyone. Having said that, if anyone is involved in this activity, he will not be spared. We have adopted a zero-tolerance policy against food adulterants," he added.
As a special guest on the occasion, Ito Naoki, Ambassador of Japan in Bangladesh, said the project will play an important role in ensuring food safety utilising Japan's long experience.
Md Abdul Kayowm Sarker, Chairman, Bangladesh Food Safety Authority presided over the programme while Dr Md Latiful Bari, Chief Scientist, Centre for Advanced Research in Sciences, Dhaka University, presented the keynote paper.
Among others, Dipankar Talukder, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Food; Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum, Secretary, Ministry of Food; Sanjay Dave, Former Codex Chairman and Food Safety Expert; Yuho Hayakawa, Chief Representative, Jica Bangladesh Office; Robert D Simpson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh were present on the occasion.