INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE : Food Safety of Milk Products and Baby Food
Saturday, 5 April 2008
Bogor – The incomplete information regarding Enterobacter sakazakii has caused anxiety in the public. Not few mothers chose to stop giving formula milk to their babies. This happened following the findings of a research by team from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Bogor Agricultural University about contamination of Enterobacter sakazakii in formula milk and baby food. In the research done in April to June 2006, they found that 22.73% of 22 samples of formula milks and 40% of 15 samples of baby foods were contaminated by Enterobacter sakazakii bacteria.
In response to this condition, students of the Veterinarian Education Program of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Bogor Agricultural University held an interactive dialogue themed “Food Safety of Milk Products and Baby Food”. This event was held on April 5, 2008, in Bogor. Goals of this dialogue were to increase public awareness on the dangers of Enterobacter sakazakii in formula milk and baby food and to provide a dynamic forum for discussion to improve public knowledge on the importance of safety of milk and baby food.
There were seven speakers in the interactive dialogue. Three speakers gave presentations; they were Dr. drh. Sri Estuningsih, MSi (Enterobacter sakazakii researcher), Prof. Dr. drh. Mirnawati Sudarwanto, MSc (expert on food hygiene and veterinary public health), and Dr. Ir. Ratih Dewanti, MSc (expert on food science). The other four speakers were acting as panelists; they were Indah Suksmaningsih (Indonesian Consumer Foundation/YLKI), Chusosi Syakur, SH (Drug and Food Monitoring Agency), Tetty Jumala (Association of Women Organizations of Bogor City), and Elly Sofyan (Indonesian Association of Doctor’s Wives). The interactive dialogue was moderated by drh. Agus Jaelani (Center for Indonesian Veterinary Analytical Studies / CIVAS).
During the presentation session, Dr. drh. Sri Estuningsih presented about “Contamination of Enterobacter sakazakii bacteria in Products of Infant Formula Milk and Baby Food”, Prof. Dr. drh. Mirnawati Sudarwanto presented about “Biological and Chemical Hazards in Formula Powdered Milk for Infants”, and Dr. Ir. Ratih Dewanti, MSc presented about “Food Safety: How to Evaluate it?”.
Dr. drh. Sri Estuningsih had said that Enterobacter sakazakii could cause meningitis, encephalitis, and necrotizing enterocolitis. Babies at risk are babies under one year of age, babies weighing less than 2.5 kilograms, and premature babies. The research done was meant to give recommendations for the government regarding future policies related to safety of formula milk and baby food products. She also advised the public not to worry, as long as it is prepared and served appropriately, formula milk is safe for babies (children). According to Indah Suksmaningsih, until now there is no standard, both in Indonesia and internationally, regarding the presence of Enterobacter sakazakii in formula milk. Therefore, this research is expected to give good insight for the government in producing such standards.
Chusosi Syakur from the Drug and Food Monitoring Agency said that they had tested 96 brands of formula milk currently in the market and not contamination of Enterobacter sakazakii was found. Therefore, he advises the public not to worry.
The dialogue produced several conclusions; first, mother’s milk is the best food for babies; second, formula milk is not a sterile product therefore appropriate handling and preparation is necessary to eliminate the presence of Enterobacter sakazakii bacteria in the milk; third, education and improvement of public awareness on food safety is necessary; fourth, collaboration of all stakeholders (cross sectors) in solving problems related to food safety is imperative; and fifth, the government should focus in securing food safety.
The interactive dialogue was attended by many parties, such as academicians, government agencies, private sector, and general public.