World Health Day 2015 regional consultation at Bengaluru

A regional consultation, organized by the WHO Country for India, in collaboration with the Department of Community Medicine, M. S. Ramaiah Medical College at Bengaluru on 6 April 2015 made a strong call for promoting food safety, the theme of this year’s World Health Day.

The consultation brought together stakeholders, from farm to plate, to discuss integration of ‘food safety’ into the broader food policy agenda and informing producers and consumers about the vital importance of safe food, and its impact on public health.

Present at the consultation were Mr P.S. Vastrad, IAS, Commissioner (Health and Family Welfare) Government of Karnataka; Dr H.S. Shivakumar, Deputy Director, Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI); Dr N. Nayantara Patil, Health Officer, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP); Dr D.V. Guruprasad, Chief Executive, Gokula Education Foundation (Medical); Dr Ramprakash, President, Voluntary Health Association of India, Karnataka; Professor Neena Joshi, MSRC Hospitality Management & Catering Technology; Mr Nameet, First Agro; Dr Neena Joshi, Gandhi Krishi Vigyana Kendra; Dr M. K. Sudharshan, Dean, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Public Health, and Chef Vibhuti Bane, G. K. Corporation amongst other eminent industry experts.

In his address, Mr P. S. Vastrad, IAS, Commissioner (HFW), Government of Karnataka highlighted the importance of preventive measures to ensure good health. He elaborated how fertilisers, use of preservatives to aid transportation of food grains over long distance and chemical treatment make farm produce contaminated and adulterated. He also reiterated the importance of inculcating healthy eating habits.

Speaking about the World Health Day, Dr Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India said, “Food safety is an issue of growing public health concern. To achieve food safety, strong functional links must be built between the public health and other sectors to ensure effective cross-sectoral collaboration.”

Addressing issues related to food safety and food control systems, the consultation saw active deliberations on the need for multisectoral collaboration from food production to consumption and cooperation from all sectors for compliance of food standards.

Acknowledging the need to further improve the food safety systems, the forum extensively deliberated on the issues of production, regulations, nutrition, unhealthy food, consumer awareness, animal-human interface of foodborne diseases and strengthening surveillance of these diseases in India.

The consultation strongly advocated that the governments must partner with civil society, NGOs, private sector and consumers, to ensure that safe food becomes everybody’s business. Perspectives on ‘Serving Safe Food’ were presented by a chef from a leading hotel and M.S. Ramaiah Hotel Management Institute, emphasising the importance of safe food.