Festivals always include food as it is a key part of our lives and celebration. Often this food is eaten away from home, either taken or purchased there. This food is also usually made specifically for that festival, for example; Mooncakes or Egg Nog. Often the on site food is provided from temporary facilities.
These may or may not have running water or have other potential food safety risks and the food is usually only made for that specific time and may include ingredients or processes not used often.
In short, festivals naturally have a heightened food safety risk and as such people providing and serving the food involved must be especially careful.
Each year for a month, those of the Islamic faith fast during daylight hours. This means no food or drinking, not even water, during the day. It is called Ramadan. Those doing it can eat after the sun goes down but not during the day. At the end, there is a huge feast to celebrate. It is a very important part of being Islamic.
This year in several countries, it is creating a very large problem as there is a heatwave in those countries and people are not drinking during the day. This is resulting in a huge number of cases of heatshock and multiple deaths.
However during a normal Ramadan and, in fact, other festivals in some Asian countries there is a greater risk of food poisoning than at other times.
Even though in Indonesia, as an example, food bills actually go up during the fasting month, many street vendors are being found to use food that is not safe as it is past it’s expired date or damaged or even contaminated. Food law enforcement is not as strong on food safety as on other issues according to The National Agency of Drug and Food Control.
According to the Indonesian Consumers Organisation, the capital Jakarta recorded the highest number of cases of expired, damaged or tainted foods – nearly twice the national average of 12 per cent.
The Agency is pushing for more collaboration with regional governments, and Customs is needed to effectively crackdown on hazardous food items. More than $2.5million in dangerous foods were seized last year, and there is more out there, especially during festivals and events like Ramadan.
Dr Roy Sparringa, head of The National Agency of Drug and Food Control said; “The institutions (Police, Customs, Attorneys and Judges) are not strong enough and the human resources are not enough to control, to inspect the premises.”
Food safety is a long term investment in a country’s future by government and business, regardless of where that country is, and will prevent much illness and death. It has to be a priority in every business and in every country’s government.
Rachelle Williams, The Green Food Safety Coach.