Antibiotics in food

A TEXT message sent to mobiles by the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate on March 15 asked people to avoid eating food items containing antibiotics as the main theme of World Consumer Rights Day this year. It is heartening to note that the government agency dealing with consumer rights has become active and, at least, tried to run an awareness campaign against foods having chemicals that are harmful to humans. Public awareness is what is central to any such campaign. Unless people are aware and unless they start putting up social resistance, it becomes hardly possible to stop malpractice that brews in society.
But what is important to note is how people could know which food are free of antibiotics and which are not. As the presence of antibiotics cannot be examined without chemical tests in laboratories, it is impossible for people to detect the presence of antibiotics, say in chickens, by visual inspection. On this count, the advice that the directorate gave people becomes useless and much of an effort to show people that they care. It is precisely nothing more than that.
The application of antibiotics may be necessary; but there should be laws governing such application of antibiotics to food items and if the laws exist, they should be enforced. If we can make producers adhere to rules and regulations and enforce the laws to sort out the issues, there should be no need to ask people to avoid antibiotics in food items.
The government had better attend to such issues in the greater interest of consumers.
Jahanara Nargis
Rampura, Dhaka

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