Consumer rights and health action groups are expressing concern over the announcement last week that Japan will provide tins of canned fish to the value of about Rs. 202 million to Sri Lanka through the United Nations World Food Programme.
On the surface it seems to be a good and generous deed, with no tincan agendas, but the consumer action groups see something fishy if not worse in a statement issued by the Japanese Embassy in Colombo. The embassy said Japan would provide canned fish manufactured in areas devastated by the East Japan earthquake and tsunami, but processed in an area with no radiation.
Health and consumer rights groups say one of the main reasons for this food contamination epidemic is the excessive use of imported chemical fertilizers, weedicides and pesticides. They say cultivators and traders–caught up in the selfish wickedness of the market economic system
The consumer rights groups said they were puzzled as to what the embassy meant by saying the millions of tins of canned fish to be given to our children as part of their school meals and nourishment programmes were manufactured in areas affected by the recent radiation leak, but processed in an area not affected. The consumer groups said they were also puzzled over the embassy’s claim that the canned fish had been examined for safety by a third party. They said Japan and the Government of Sri Lanka were duty bound to tell the people as to who this third party was and whether it had issued a certificate that the food was safe for consumption by lakhs of schoolchildren.
Even now, a transnational milk food company – whose reputation has been tarnished in several countries – is playing a leading role in the school meal programme with people-friendly nutritionists asking whether the company was promoting good health for the children or in a subtle way promoting its own products. Now with questions being raised over the canned fish, health rights groups are expressing concern that we may be producing a generation of unhealthy children.
With or without a deadly radiation risk, nutritionists say canned fish is not known to be a healthy food item because the tins are coated with a chemical to prevent them from getting rusty and also to preserve the fish for several years
With or without a deadly radiation risk, nutritionists say canned fish is not known to be a healthy food item because the tins are coated with a chemical to prevent them from getting rusty and also to preserve the fish for several years. They say the Government should use its own media especially to make the people aware that local fish like linna, salayo or cumbalavo, when pressure cooked with salt and vinegar is as good as any foreign canned fish and could be preserved for some months in ceramic containers that are kept in the deep freezer of a refrigerator.
Food contamination has become a major health crisis in recent years. Last week the Consumer Affairs Authority said it had detected about 200,000 oranges that were unfit for human consumption. This was one of hundreds of detections made in recent months with the contaminated items ranging from rice and milk powder to vegetables, fruits and condiments including hundreds of tons of the medicinal kottamalli or coriander.
Health and consumer rights groups say one of the main reasons for this food contamination epidemic is the excessive use of imported chemical fertilizers, weedicides and pesticides. They say cultivators and traders–caught up in the selfish wickedness of the market economic system - are forcibly ripening fruits by using chemicals such as carbide. Most varieties of imported apples are known to be coated with preservatives at that end and this end to the extent that they are no longer the apples of the eye, but children who eat them so fondly may be taking in a bit of the forbidden fruit.
With food safety being so insecure, the Government needs to appoint a food safety body such as the wide-powered Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in the United States. Parents and mature children also need to act wisely instead of swallowing the unethical marketing practices of transnational corporations, big traders and others for whom money is the religion.