State Governments Agree to Adopt Federal Government Food Safety Policy

 

State Governments Agree to Adopt Federal Government Food Safety Policy

Stakeholders along the food supply chain in two (2) Nigerian geopolitical zones of South West and South-South, have committed to best practices in maintaining quality and safety, within the context of the National Food Safety Policy. The Policy was developed by the Federal Ministry of Health, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Trade & Investment, Federal Ministry of Science & Technology, as well as the private sector. Following the successful outing of the First Food Safety and Investment Forum, in February 2017, a Food Safety Awareness Campaign was put in place to sensitise Nigerian states to engender a Food Safety culture in the country that will also promote investment.

Towards this end, the Food Safety Awareness Campaign was held in Oyo, Osun, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, during which key government officials were named Food Safety Champions and pledged their support for food safety in their respective states. The state governors, deputy governors, commissioners from line ministries, and secretaries of state, committed to establish a State Food Safety Management Committee (SFSMC) to review the legislative and institutional frameworks to ensure safer foods in the respective States.

Conducted by the EU/UNIDO National Quality Infrastructure Project (NQIP), the Food Safety Awareness Campaign is a requirement for the effective implementation of the Federal Government’s Food Safety Policy. The campaign comprised consultative meetings with State Policymakers from the Ministries of Health, Agriculture & Rural Development, Commerce and Environment. A one-day food safety sensitisation workshop was also held for farmers, food service providers, distributors and retailers; and representatives of the Organised Private Sector, including SMEs, as well as journalists and students.

The Food Safety Awareness Campaign ran between 24th April and 9th May 2017, kicking off with a press tour in Oyo State, and rounding up in Akwa Ibom State. The National Expert on Food Safety under NQIP, John Tehinse, described food safety as, “a national, and global, concern.” Tehinse, who led the sensitisation campaign, said, “The primary goal of food safety is to prevent incidents and outbreaks of food borne illnesses. The entire gamut of Nigeria’s food supply chain requires reform in order to conform to international best practices.” Tehinse also said that all levels of government have the responsibility to “enact and implement policies, laws, regulations, standards and institutional mechanisms that provide assurance that food at any sector of the food supply chain is safe and suitable for human consumption and trade.” Tehinse also highlighted the responsibility placed on handlers along the food supply chain to ensure that food is safe and wholesome, from farm to table.

The Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole, who was represented by the Director, Dept of Food and Drugs (FMOH) Mrs Anthonia Okpara in each State during the campaign, described food as a “global socio-economic and political tool.” The Minister urged the State governments to establish Special Units for Food Safety within the State Ministries of Health “to optimise the synergy between Federal and State to promote the health of the citizens.”

The Permanent Secretary, Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, Mr Victor Atilola, said that the safety and health of the citizens was one of the cardinal​commitments of the state government. While the Osun state deputy governor, Mrs. Grace Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, described the campaign on Food Safety as “targeted to protect lives and living conditions of the people of the state in tandem with the Six-point Integral Action Plan of Governor Rauf Aregbesola”, the Governments of Rivers and Akwa Ibom States expressed great satisfaction with the purpose of the food safety campaign. The Rivers State Permanent Secretary of Health, Somieari Lawrence Isaac-Harry, described the campaign as “timely”, and “in-line with…development priorities.”

Since its launch in 2013, the NQIP, a European Union funded project, has supported the development of Nigeria’s standards and quality control bodies and encouraged improvement of the quality of products and services exchanged in Nigerian internal and export markets. 

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