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Improving food safety in Bangladesh

Workshop on Commodity Surveys and the Bangladesh Food Safety Laboratory Network


10 June 2014, the Food Safety Programme is providing technical assistance for food sample analysis and research activities at the National Food Safety Laboratory of the Institute of Public Health. Through a limited survey of a basket of food commodities that was prominently highlighted in the national press, indications of the contaminants in food being consumed on a daily basis were obtained. While public awareness is fueled by frequent media reports, the lack of scientific data on specific food safety hazards and risks poses a challenge to performing risk assessments and therefore, setting Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) and standards. The Programme is therefore piloting a collaborative approach enlisting other research groups in the country to address some of these issues. To this end, a workshop on conducting targeted commodity surveys was held at the NFSL. Among others, the participants included ICDDR,B, Dhaka University, Bangladesh Agriculture University, BSTI as well as Plasma Plus and SGS from the private sector. A draft survey plan was drawn up to analyze samples of select commodities that are key components of the Bangladeshi diet. The tests will focus on pesticide residues, heavy metal residues, mycotoxins and microbial contaminants. The survey will cover several districts of Bangladesh and be conducted over a period of 12 months.