Does Food Safety Exist in Pakistan?

Food safety and security are the two major issues that are being evolved, particularly in the developing world, as a result of the growing global population and expanding global trade activity. Undoubtedly, food safety issues present a significant barrier for many countries in their struggle to boost their economic status.

By Jahangir Ahmed, Muhammad Uzair Aslam, Saeed Ahmad, and Muhammad Alamgeer

According to the World Health Organization, the way through which foodborne diseases affect developing nations’ economies is by raising the prevalence of sickness in the area. A lack of surveillance and monitoring makes the situation worse because most cases of foodborne diseases go without being reported or addressed. Most nations around the globe specifically developing ones consider the food safety issue to be of utmost significance, thus initiating measures to check foodborne hazards. The issues with food safety that arise in emerging countries are of importance to several international organizations. One of the top 11 concerns of the World Health Organization is food safety, and it is working extremely hard to address the issue in underdeveloped countries.

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The most vulnerable age groups in developing nations are infants and young children, who account for most of the sickness and death in that population. Without a systematic plan to improve the food safety situation, efforts to combat poverty and hunger in the areas will surely fail. Certain foodborne diseases such as diarrhea and renal failure are caused by some microbial pathogens including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, and Escherichia coli. Animals can spread tuberculosis or brucellosis, which affects a significant portion of the rural population engaged in farming and livestock management. Because of water poisoning, millions of people have different kinds of intestinal diseases. As the prevalence of disease increases in developing countries, foodborne diseases are a hazard and serious concern.

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An estimated 1,500 diarrheal epidemics occur annually, 75% of which have been linked to biological food contamination, and lead to the deaths of three million children under the age of five. People also think that biologically contaminated foods play a role in the spread of cholera and pandemic diarrhea. As a result of insufficient and inaccurate monitoring, surveillance, and control, numerous adulterants enter the food chain and adversely influence the health of many people in developing nations. According to research, these toxins increase the risk of cancer and other serious diseases in humans. Similarly, the excessive use of antibiotics to treat animals has the consequence of increasing bacterial resistance to these medications. Exposure to heavy metals, which can come from the environment or pesticides, is one of the main reasons why people get cancer and damage their brains.

If immediate action is not taken to address the problem, Pakistan’s existing food safety scenario will continue to have a significant impact on the country’s economic infrastructure. Growing rates of foodborne infections, particularly diarrhea in children, are concerning because Pakistan’s future rests on having a healthier population. Furthermore, Pakistan urgently must address the problem of food safety scientifically. Studies have revealed that most of the country’s foods are contaminated with toxins, heavy metals, certain adulterants as well as agricultural pesticides and pose a serious threat to common’s health. In order to mitigate the existing food safety hazards in Pakistan, different measures are to be adopted such as spreading public awareness about food hygiene, implementing food laws as well as making legislation, creating consumer societies to ensure food safety, and recognizing the modern challenges for food safety by all stakeholders in the supply chain from farm to fork.

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Authors:  Jahangir Ahmed, Muhammad Uzair Aslam, Saeed Ahmad, and Muhammad Alamgeer