Ban pesticides in food vending machines - Dr Waruna Gunatilake | Sunday Observer

Ban pesticides in food vending machines - Dr Waruna Gunatilake

Following a news report last week, about an employee in a leading supermarket in Colombo, caught on camera spraying a pesticide inside a coffee vending machine, the Sunday Observer spoke to former Head National Poisons Information Unit, National Hospital, and currently Consultant Physician at the NHS, for his views.

In a telephone interview and speaking from Bandarawela where he was conducting a health program, Dr Gunatilake expressed shock and concern that such an incident could have occurred, especially, in a public place where customers, including both young and old alike were present.

“ It is totally unacceptable as these chemicals have long term and short term residues, and cause serious impacts both in the long term and short term.

In the short term it can cause skin irritation and body irritation and in the long term it can lead to carcinogen.” He lamented that the most vulnerable groups were the young, especially, children who were the biggest customers at these machines.

“Consuming these harmful chemicals can expose them to much health risks early in life”, he reiterated..

“ The use of these machines need to be monitored more strictly and parents must be more vigilant as well. “, he added.

He said that although the labels say one thing no one really knows what these pesticides and insecticides actually contain.” Here in Sri Lanka we still do not have sufficient analytical facilities to see the composition of pesticides, insecticides and sprays.

In most countries pesticides have been banned, especially, in European countries.

We should do the same and avoid putting our people ‘s lives at risk”, he said, urging health authorities to take another hard long look at our pesticide imports which although now regulated by the Pesticide Authority, are still violated, with impunity, by unscrupulous traders