With the Milkgate crisis ending on a note of honey, the government and the people of Sri Lanka now need to act effectively to ensure the safety and quality of local and imported food items.
Though we have a food Advisory Authority in the Health Ministry, the Consumer Affairs Authority, the Food Commissioners Department and other State institutions there appears to be little or no effective monitoring and regulations for the safety and quality of the food. That may be one of the main reasons why most Sri Lankans from children to the senior citizens are falling sick regularly and hospitals are crowded like market places with the private health sector now thriving as a booming business.
Therefore, there is an urgent need to set up a high powered food control authority either under the President or the Ministry of Scientific Research and Technology. It is widely known that trans-national food companies have been for several decades using Third World countries like Sri Lanka to freely dump loads of garbage, processed rubbish or food that is unfit for human consumption because preservatives like the undertakers formalin have been used. Deceived by unethical promotion, as we saw in the recent milk powder issue, millions of people buy these imported products at high prices on the long standing delusion that anything imported is better than local products. Mothers and children specially are deceived and there are roaring sales of some of these imported food items which cause non-communicable diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, pressure and other ailments like viral influenza because we are eating a little poison with every meal. The proposed Food Control Authority needs to carry out a full review of all the food items being imported, check their safety and quality and use specially the government media to make people aware of what they should eat and should not eat. Highly qualified people- friendly nutritionists would also be required along with a Food Police to ensure that the new regulations are effectively implemented for the common good of the people and the country.
Nutritionists say that Sri Lanka being a paradise isle has enough local food items to provide all the nutrition we need. This was the case for thousands of years but in recent decades transnational chemical companies are known to use unethical promotional methods and give other facilities for the farmers to buy and use more chemical fertilisers, pesticides and weedicides. As a result most of the rice, vegetables and other food items like gram or green gram are known to be polluted with chemicals. Sri Lanka has a more than 50 varieties of edible fruits such as nelli, avocado, pears, naminam which are rich in nutrition. But in addition to the wide scale use of agro-chemicals during cultivation most sellers and traders are known to be using carbide on an extensive scale to ripen the fruits faster. Mangoes, papaya and bananas are among the fruits that are being polluted in this way and parents would be shocked and scandalised to know that when they give their children these fruits they may be giving some poison which could have a long term effect on some organ or organs in the child’s body. This is not only a racket but wickedness of the worst order. What else can we expect with ruling politicians not setting an example. The character of most of them is known to be selfish, insincere, cunning and corrupt.
Therefore, we urge the people to put pressure on the government to take immediate and effective action to stop the slow food poisoning of our people.