Chennai: Testing food at various levels from food production to delivery can ensure food safety, said Julian Cox, a renowned expert on food safety from Australia. He was recently in the city to explore opportunities for collaboration with Indian universities on behalf of University of New South Wales, Sydney, where he currently works as an associate professor of food microbiology.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle about the challenges in ensuring food safety and quality, he said, “Despite a lot of effort many countries still faces challenges with food safety and quality. My understanding suggests that food science and technology, food safety still needs a lot of development in India”.
“There is a lot of potential for foreign universities and experts to work in the area of food safety and quality,” he pointed out. On ensuring food safety he said, “We have to educate all the people involved in the food chain. The farmers need to understand what they do is important to ensure food safety and quality. Others involved in food handling have to be educated about the good practices of personal hygiene.”
“The food items need to be tested at various levels to understand where the organisms occur and where the contaminations happen,” he said while pointing out the need to develop low-cost food testing technologies for India. “Adoption of current food testing technology is expensive and is economically not feasible. In India cost of testing is very important. Since the labour is cheap in India it is possible to test food items at lower cost,” he said.
On the effects of food poisoning and food borne illness, he said, “It can cause several diseases like diarrhoea and vomiting to permanent illness. People are disabled for a lifetime due to food borne illness. Potentially, it could have a significant impact on the economy.”
He stressed the need for a framework for food safety. The agency responsible for food safety can set processes for producing safe food and they set limits what should be reasonable incidents of microorganisms.