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Medical cost due to food, water diseases in India was Rs 32,941 crore in 2016-17: Study


Press Trust of India Lucknow
The total direct medical cost due to food and water borne diseases in India was estimated to be Rs 32,941 crore during 2016-17, claims a recent study.
If the situation is not checked, the total economic cost due to food and water contamination in India could touch the Rs 9,50,000-crore mark by 2022, said the study jointly conducted by the Foundation for Millennium Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Thought Arbitrage, a research firm.
The study says it is imperative the government, policymakers and other stakeholders set appropriate evidence-based priorities in the area of food safety with a view to effectively reduce the burden of food and water contamination.
Releasing the report 'Economic burden of food and water contamination in India' on Monday, foundation chairman D S Rawat said food safety measures were not up to the mark in the country.
Rawat, who is also the chairman of MSME Export Promotion Council supported by the Union Ministry of MSME, said analysis indicated that communicable diseases posed a greater threat to the economy and society than other factors.
He said the total direct medical cost due to food borne and water borne diseases was estimated to be Rs 32,941 crore in 2016-17.
He said the food sector in India is dominated by unincorporated enterprises, accounting for nearly 80 per cent of the sector's volume.
In 2015-16, the total number of factories in the formal food sector in the country was 39,318; in the informal sector, the total number of unincorporated enterprises stood at 23 lakh.
The study has warned that rich rural and urban households will be more affected than others due to their preference for luxurious types of food. such as meat, fruits and vegetables, where every third person could fall sick from food borne diseases.
The study recommended a six-pronged strategy -- scientific analysis of various contaminants in the food chain, integrated working of various arms of the government, integrating incorporated units with food safety/regulatory mechanisms, ensuring safety of domestically produced food as per set standards, developing proper data base of burden by foodborne/waterborne diseases in the country and mobilising adequate infrastructure and food safety system.
It also recommended use of safe agricultural practices, quality control and laboratory testing, hygienic preparation of food in the unorganised sector and complying with inspection procedures of food establishments.

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First Published: Jul 29 2019 | 4:20 PM IST

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