A CALL for safe egg production at minimum cost and an increased egg consumption in view of its nutritional values is what has marked the observance of World Egg Day, which this year fell on October 14, in Bangladesh the way it was observed in more than 200 countries. The livestock services department, in association with two other organisations, marked the event at the Krishibid Institution Bangladesh in Dhaka, with the call that points out some inadequacy in food safety issues on part of the government and its relevant agencies. The day, which the International Egg Commission decided to observe in 1996, has been observed in Bangladesh since 2013, with no effective steps having so far largely been taken to make eggs safe for humans. The people, including the fisheries and livestock minister, who attended the event expressed concern about high prices of eggs, attributed to an increased cost of raw materials, also called for a safe poultry waste management and noted that companies producing eggs on a large scale should be brought under a framework to break monopoly, if any. Eggs supplement the daily protein intake of people on budget. Official data show that Bangladeshis on an average consumed 136 eggs in 2021–22 while the world’s highest egg consumption rate was three times the Bangladesh figure.

But what the government needs to attend to is the issue of safe egg production, which has so far been left largely ignored. A large number of cases of food-borne illness is caused by the consumption of eggs contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella enteritidis. The Food Safety Authority should frame a regulation, and put it in force, requiring egg producers to take preventive measures during the production of eggs in poultry farms and subsequent storage and transport. Now that a number of large-scale companies have come into the business of egg production, it is of utmost importance that egg-associated illness caused by Salmonella does not become a public health concern. The other problem so far left ignored is the potential presence of heavy metals in eggs. There have earlier been studies that have found heavy metals beyond permissible limits in poultry and poultry feed. A few private studies earlier showed a higher concentration of cadmium, chromium and lead in chicken and eggs supposedly from the feed and other sources such as drinking water, soil and the surrounding environment of poultry farms. The government and its agencies need to ensure that eggs remain free of heavy metals beyond permissible limits so that a higher consumption of eggs does not become a cause for serious public health concern.

The government must, therefore, attend to a few issues to make egg production and consumption safe for humans. It needs to see that raw materials used in egg production do not mark up. It must work out regulations and protocols to ensure that eggs do not contain Salmonella and heavy metals. And, it must ensure that large-scale farms cannot enjoy monopoly. Egg consumption should go up to supplement the daily protein intake, but it must happen in a safe manner.

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