The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the Federal Ministry of Health held an Experts/stakeholders review & harmonisation workshop for the Food Safety & Quality Bill (2019).
The Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Mahmuda Mamman, in his opening remarks, said that food safety stakeholders drafted the bill with the support of the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to protect the health of consumers and define functions and parts of the federal, state and local governments to ensure food and safety risks are efficiently managed.
The Permanent Secretary who was represented by Mr Taiye Ologun noted that the Food Safety & Quality Bill (2019) is yet to be harmonised for passage into law which necessitated the day’s gathering.
Mr Ologun noted that Nigeria currently operates a multi-agency food safety regulatory approach which presents significant challenges, including the problem of multi-jurisdiction, which results in loss of consumer confidence leading to rejection of Nigerian foods in the international market. In addition.
He reiterated the bill’s importance in ensuring consumer health protection and improving the acceptability of Nigerian foods in the global market.
Facilitator of the NESG Agriculture and Food Security Policy Commission, Ms Gloria Ekpo, in her goodwill message, said that the NESG supports the protection of the lives and health of Nigerians through the provision of safe foods, which is critical in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), promoting good health and well-being, encouraging consumption and safeguarding public health.
“The experts’ review will encourage collaborative rules to ensure food safety. As we dialogue and submit relevant opinions, we should proffer recommendations that will foster inclusion and promote regional and continental drive that ensures food safety,” Ms Ekpo stated.
Furthermore, Ms Ekpo revealed the importance of monitoring and upholding approved standards for the informal sector while encouraging regulators and stakeholders to streamline their activities.
“In NESG, we recognise that advocacy and coordination are key. AGRA and the PIATA partnership have made the process possible. We reiterate our commitment to further collaboration with stakeholders in the government and private sector to foster ongoing reforms of the Nigerian economy,” She stated.
In his goodwill message, Dr Thomas Arokoyo, who represented the country manager of AGRA, Dr Makinde, said that AGRA is supporting an agricultural revolution that ensures safe food and nutrition.
The representative of the minister for science, technology and innovation, Mrs Abiba Abdulrahman, said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 1 in 10 persons suffer from foodborne illnesses and that more than 91 million people fall ill.
Over 100,000 die from foodborne diseases in Africa annually. She noted that the Federal Ministry of Health strongly supports the bill.
In addition, the ministry initiated several other projects, including analysis of food samples sensitisation of indiscriminate use of calcium carbide, amongst others, to foster food safety and security.
Ms Abiba stated that Food safety is a shared responsibility, as everyone has a role to play in ensuring that food is fit for consumption and meets international standards.
While delivering a presentation on the “Overview and Importance of Food Safety & Quality Bill for National, Regional and International Economic Prosperity”, Mr John Tehinse said that the bill protects the health of consumers from hazards present in food and animal feed and helps to define functions and powers of institutions of federal and state governments to ensure food and food safety risks are effectively managed.
He noted that the law enhances efficiency, eliminates wastage, and provides uniformity in implementing food safety laws.
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