Conference Room Document 89
English only

FAO/WHO SECOND GLOBAL FORUM FOR FOOD SAFETY REGULATORS

Bangkok, Thailand, 12-14 October 2004

Strengthening Official Food Safety Control Services

(Paper prepared by Dr Shah Mahfuzur Rahman, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,
and A T K M Ismail, Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh)

INTRODUCTION

Bangladesh is a developing country of 147,570 sq. km with a total population of some 130 million. The country is largely a low flat and fertile land, washed by a total 230 rivers including tributaries. It enjoys a subtropical monsoon climate. Agriculture is the largest sector in Bangladesh economy. Its combined contribution (crops, forestry, fisheries, livestocks etc.) to the country's GDP and employment is more than one third and two third respectively

Bangladesh has achieved a significant progress in health & nutrition of the people. In spite of this progress, still the infant mortality rate is 51/1000 and maternal mortality ratio is 3/1000 livebirths. Some one third of the children born with low birth weight and only 11.5 % of preschool age children are nutritionally normal. ‘Diarrhoeal diseases' is one of the major public health problems in the country. Some two third of these diarrhoeal diseases are food and water borne. At present, more than 30 million people are facing arsenic problem in drinking water and some 70-80 million people are threatened with the problem.

Bangladesh is yet to develop a unified Food Safety Administration System and to formulate a Food Safety Policy. But it has a National Food and Nutrition Policy where attention has been given on food safety. There are significant activities in food safety and quality control are going on in the country. A number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies are involved in these activities with a major responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) which has a unique infrastructure to deliver its services throughout the country. Under this Ministry, Management Information System on food safety and food borne illnesses is some extent integrated with the Primary Health Care Programme. It may be mentioned here Bangladesh has signed the WTO Agreement.

FOOD SAFETY AND QUALITY CONTROL FRAMEWORK

Bangladesh has four tires in administration-Division, District, Upazila (sub-district) and Union. There are 6 Divisions, 64 Districts, 470 Upazilas and 4,484 Unions. The country has also 6 City Corporations and 254 Municipalities (as of August, 2001).

In Bangladesh, the food safety and quality control framework consists of Laws, Regulations & Standards, Administration & Inspection and Laboratory analytical services.

1. LAWS, REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS

1.1 LAWS AND REGULATIONS

(a) The Bangladesh Pure Food Ordinance, 1959: This is an ordinance to provide better control of the manufacture and sale of food for human consumption. Now, this Ordinance is under revision as ‘The Bangladesh Pure Food (Amendment) Act, 2004.Under this Act, it has been proposed to constitute a National Food Safety Council ‘headed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as well as to establish Food Courts.

(b) The Bangladesh Pure Food Rules, 1967:.In this Rule, there are generic standards for 107 food products. Now, this ‘Rules' is under revision.

(c) The Special Power Act, 1974 (Act No XIV of 1974-as modified up to the 31st July, 1978): An Act to provide special measures for the prevention of certain prejudicial activities, for more speedy trial and effective punishment of certain grave offences.

(d) The Food Grain Supply (Prevention of Prejudicial activity) Ordinance, 1956 (Ord. xxvi of 1979): This ordinance provides special measures for prevention of prejudicial activity relating to the storage, movement, transshipment, supply and distribution of food grains. It provides basis for the protection of false statement or information.

(e) The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution Ordinance, 1985: This ordinance is to establish an Institution for standardization, testing, metrology, quality control, grading and marking of goods. Within the framework of this ordinance, Government has established the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI).One import task is to certify the quality of commodities, materials, whether for local consumption, export and import. The Ordinance has been amended as The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (Amendment) Act, 2003. Currently, BSTI is developing a ‘Policy on Labelling'. BSTI is the Codex Focal Point for Bangladesh.

(f) The Radiation Protection Act, 1987: Under this Act, the Institute of Food and Radiation Biology (IFRB) of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission is primarily involved in food irradiation research and development in the country.

(g) The Iodine Deficiency Disorders Prevention Act, 1989: The Government has enacted “The Iodine Deficiency Disorders Prevention Act, 1989 for universal salt iodisation & banned non-iodised salt from market, aimed at virtual elimination of IDD from the country.

(h) The Essential Commodity Act, 1990: The purpose of administering this act is to stable, maintain or increase supply of essential commodities including foodstuffs. The mandate of Essential Commodity Act also includes broad spectrum of broad spectrum of activities like storage, transport, distribution, disposal, acquisition, use or consumption of any essential commodity.

(i) Fish and Fish product (Inspection and Quality Control) Rules, 1997: This section of the Fish and Fish products (Inspection and Control) Ordinance 1983 (Ord xx of 1983) and in conjunction with fish and fish products Inspection and Quality Rules 1989, and other related provisions made thereunder, the Government has made the Rules: Fish and Fish product (Inspection and Quality Control) Rules, 1997. These Rules are basically meant to develop quality improvement to promote export of trade. The quality control of fish and fish products in the country has earned reputation of the importing countries.

(j) Other Laws and Regulations: In addition, a number of other Laws and Regulations are existed in the country to ensure the safe and quality food viz. The Animal Slaughter (Restriction) and Meat Control (Amendment) Ordinance,1983 (it is under revision);The Pesticide Ordinance,1971 & the Pesticides Rules,1985;Destructive Insects and Pests Rules (Plant Quarantine),1966,amended up to 1989;Agricultural Products Market Act,1950 (revised in 1985);Fish Protection and Conservation Act,1950 (amended in 1995);Marine Fisheries Ordinance 1983 and Rules,1983;Procuremnet Specifications, Ministry of Food, Rice Mill Control Order etc. To protect the consumers rights and privileges a new Act i.e. Consumers' Protection Act, 2004 is to be passed soon. There are also a number of policies i.e. Bangladesh Food and Nutrition Policy, 1997 and National Plan of Action on Nutrition, National Agricultural Policy, 1999; Integrated Pest Management Policy, 2002 etc are linked with the country's food safety and quality control.

1.2 BANGLADESH FOOD STANDARDS

  1. Under the Bangladesh Pure Food Ordinance, 1959 and the Bangladesh Pure Food Rules, 1967, there are 107 different generic, mandatory food standards.
  2. BSTI is the Standardisation body in the country. There are 50 mandatory generic food standards of BSTI. In addition, there are some 250 optional standards for different foodstuff. BSTI is also adopting Codex standards.

2. ADMINISTRATION AND INSPECTION

The following Ministries, Departments, Agencies are directly or indirectly responsible for enforcement of food laws, rules and regulations-

  1. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW): As per the Bangladesh Pure Food Ordinance, 1959 and the Bangladesh Pure Food Rules, 1967, the MOHFW having the major responsibility for the enforcement of food control legislation to ensure safe food. Under the MOHFW, there is one Sanitary Inspector in each Upazila and District level, and a number Sanitary Inspectors at the Head Quarters. The Sanitary Inspectors are responsible for monitoring of food quality and safety situation including collection of food samples. Inspection of food manufacturing/processing and selling premises as well as to collect food samples. Duties of sanitary Inspectors are being supervised by the Senior Health Officials at Upazila and District level. Collected samples are being sent to the Public Health Laboratory of the Institute of Public Health, Dhaka for analyses.
  2. Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives (MOLGRD): MOLGRD is responsible for the food safety and quality of food in City corporations and Municipalities. Sanitary Inspectors are employed for inspection of food manufacturing/processing and selling premises as well as to collect food samples. Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) is responsible for providing tap water/drinking water in Bangladesh with exception of three large cities where City Corporations providing the water supply.
  3. Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs: On the basis of the Certificate of Tested Food samples, prosecution is done under "The Pure Food Ordinance, 1959" conducted by this Ministry. Besides, this Ministry having the responsibility for revision of existing rules/ordinance or to formulate, vetting and Parliamentary approval etc. for new ordinance or rules, as per request of or recommendation from the concerned sectors etc.
  4. Ministry of Food and Disaster Management: Directorate General of Food having Food Inspectors at the Upazila and District level and usually deal with the Food security aspects. Besides, they are also responsible for quality of imported and locally procured food grains and other food items including sugar, edible oil etc. as well as responsible for the quality of the storage food grains etc.
  5. Ministry of Industry: Ministry of Industry is responsible for the Standardisation, Certification Marks and Monitoring quality control of food items through its BSTI. Inspectors (Field Officers) check trade license, label and quality of food by collecting samples. Recently, BSTI formed a committee for the establishment of a national accreditation body in Bangladesh. A draft for “The Bangladesh Accreditation Board Act” is now under consideration in this ministry.
  6. Ministry of Agriculture: Ministry of Agriculture is also involved in maintaining safety and quality of food through good agricultural practices like optimum use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, preservation and supply of seeds. Approval of pesticides is a responsibility of this Ministry. Directorate General of Extension (DAE) Service of this Ministry is working together with the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission to perform a survey to monitor for residues of pesticides in agricultural products all over the country. Furthermore, the Ministry is also implementing Integrated Pest Management in 201 Upazillas. It is revealed that as a result of IPM activities, in Boro paddy production in 2002-03, number of applications of pesticides reduced by 88.2%, average costs of pesticides reduced by 89.0% and 11.0% increased in crop yield; in Vegetable production in 2002-03, number of applications of pesticides reduced by 84.0-89.0%, average costs of pesticides reduced by 88.0% and 12.0% increased in yield.
  7. Ministry of Environment and Forest: Ministry of Environment and Forest is also involved in food safety. Presently, the Department of Environment of the ministry along with the Department of Agricultural Extension and Bangladesh Power Development Board is implementing a project on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) under Stockholm Convention aimed to protect human health and environment.
  8. Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock: Of this Ministry, the Department of Fisheries is responsible for prevention and control of diseases in fishes & aquatic animals and safety and quality of fish and aquaculture products. The seafood quality and safety programme is based on GMP and sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) and HACCP principles. Fish Inspection and Quality Control (FIQC) wing mandatorily introduced and implemented HACCP in Fish processing industries. The FIQC carry out regular inspection of hygiene (raw materials handling, process operations, plant hygiene) and sanitation of plant premises, verify HACCP related documents and records to satisfy the Codex guidelines and directives of EU & USFDA. The Directorate of Livestock is responsible for animal health and quality and safety of product of animal origin.
  9. In addition, the Ministries like Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Defence are also responsible for food safety and quality control.

3. LABORATORY ANALYSES OF FOOD

The following Laboratories are responsible for qualitative and quantitative assessment of food items-

  1. Public Health Laboratory of the Institute of Public Health, Dhaka under the MOHFW. Some 5000 food samples are tested here annually, sent by the Sanitary Inspectors from different Upazilas and Municipalities. Results are indicated that there are as many as 50% of the samples are found unsatisfactory. But this does not reflect the real picture of the food quality of the country. Because, most of these samples are biased i.e. suspected as unsatisfactory food items by the Sanitary Inspectors, not collected randomly.
  2. Laboratory of the Institute of Public Health Nutrition under the MOHFW-dealing with the monitoring of the quality of Iodised salt and others
  3. Bangladesh Standard Testing Institution (BSTI) under the Ministry of Industries. In 2003-04, BSTI performed 307 mobile court, 163 samples collected from open market, 153 show cause notice issued to manufacturers, 25 licenses were cancelled, 148 legal actions were taken, which were 43,95,13,11 and 80 respectively in 2000-01.
  4. Food Testing Laboratory, Directorate of Food under the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management. In 2002-03, this laboratory tested 242 rice samples, 291 wheat and 6 oil which was respectively 3, 20 and 49 in 2000-01.
  5. Institute of Food Science Technology, Dhaka; Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) as well as its Branches at Chittagong and Dhaka under Ministry of Science and Information & Communication Technology.
  6. Food Testing Laboratory of Dhaka City Corporation under the MOLGRD. In 2003,a total 960 samples were tested in the Public Health Laboratory of the Dhaka City Corporation which was 430 in the year 2000
  7. Laboratory of Plant Protection Wing of DAE of Ministry of Agriculture: This lab also tests both imported and exported vegetables and fruits. During the year 2002-03, 7007.6 metric tons vegetables and 2262.6 metric tons fruits were exported and of them 1500 samples were collected and tested. It was 5554 metric tons, 1885 metric tons and 1000 samples respectively in 2000-01. It was found that 100% samples were satisfactory in both years.
  8. Quality Control Laboratories for frozen fish at Khulna and Chittagong under the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. In 2002-03, a total 3940 lots were exported.49 and 8 lots were rejected in the country and out side of the country respectively. Under this Ministry, there is also Lab at Fisheries Research Institute, Mymensingh.
  9. Laboratory of Department of Livestock under the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.
  10. Institute of Food Radiation Biology, Atomic Energy Commission under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.
  11. Institute of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Dhaka under the Ministry of Education.
  12. Central laboratory and Lab of Post Harvest Technology of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute and Lab. of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute under the Ministry of Agriculture.
  13. Armed Forces Food and Drug Testing Laboratory, Dhaka Cantonment, Dhaka under the Ministry of Defence.
  14. Laboratories of Department of Food Technology & Rural Industry, Department of Dairy Science and Department of Biochemistry of Bangladesh Agricultural University.
  15. Chemical Examination Laboratory of CID under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  16. Environment Laboratory, Directorate of Environment under the Ministry Environment and Forests.

WHO/FAO supported Food Safety Programme in Bangladesh

Food safety Programme – a collaborative programme of Govt. of Bangladesh and WHO is being implemented in Bangladesh since 1994.Under the Food Safety Programme. The major activities are-

  1. Strengthening of Public Health Laboratory of the Institute of Public Health, Dhaka
  1. Procurement of instruments, equipment and chemicals
  2. Training of the laboratory personnel (in home and abroad)
  1. Training on Food safety for - Health Managers and Sanitary Inspectors of MOHFW and MOLGRD.
  2. Training on HACCP for Quality Control personnel of Food industries
  3. Orientation on food safety for- School teachers, Community leaders, Religious leaders and Hotel Restaurant Managers/Owners , Street food vendors and others
  4. National and Regional seminars on food safety.
  5. Information, Education and Communication activities on food safety for School children, Managers/owners of Hotel restaurants, Food vendors, Mass people and others.
  6. Research works : On quality of different food items, epidemiology of food borne diseases etc

Presently, under Technical Cooperation Programme of FAO the Directorate of Food, Ministry of Food and Disaster Management is implementing a project namely ‘Strengthening Food Control System in Bangladesh', started from April, 2004 - aimed to

  1. assist the country in strengthening its food quality control system to improve consumer protection
  2. ensure the safety and quality of the food supply, domestically produced as well as imported
  3. prepare a long term project proposal on food safety management

Main components of the project are

  1. on-site assistance in food control administration and management including review of the existing food quality and safety standards and regulations
  2. strengthening food inspection service
  3. upgrading of food quality control laboratories
  4. provision of training in internationally accepted procedures and good laboratory practice
  5. provision of training in internationally accepted procedure in food inspection and
  6. provision of training in internationally accepted procedure in Food hygiene and HACCP

CONCLUSION

The Government of Bangladesh is well committed to ensure safe and quality food for the people of the country for better health, nutrition and development. Food safety has also been included in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) of the country. Over the years the food safety and quality situation including mass awareness of the country has also been improved. Consumers' group and voluntary organisations are also active in the country. The Government is going to constitute a National Food Safety Council soon. To protect the rights and privileges of the consumers, the Consumers' Protection Act is to be placed in the Parliament in the next session. Furthermore, the Government is updating the laws, rules and regulations regarding food safety and quality. Strengthening of the existing laboratories and establishment of a reference laboratory as well as set-up of regional Public Health Laboratories at the Divisional and District head quarters under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are urgently needed.