By Victor Okoye
Abuja, July 29, 2022 (NAN) Stakeholders on Thusday in Abuja said the issue of food safety was a collaborative effort by all and therefore everyone’s responsibility and business.
A cross section of stakeholders spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the 2022 National Food Safety Summit in Abuja.
The event held at the Ministry of Environment was powered by RCL City Centre in collaboration with National Industrial Safety Council of Nigeria (NISCN), National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Others are Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), the Federal Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Lagos State Safety Commission.
The stakeholders said that the issue of food safety must not be left in the hands of the industry’s regulatory bodies alone, adding that it was the responsibility and business of everyone.
Mr Joe Oduah, the Chief Executive Officer, RCL Industrial Safety Centre said that everyone who produces, processes, sell or prepares food, have a role in keeping it safe.
“The National Food Safety Summit has brought together all the operators in the food industry value chain from the growers, fertilizers, transport and storage as well as regulatory authorities.
“This is bringing together all the policy makers in the food industry from NAFDAC, FCCPC, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Health.
“They are here together primarily to brainstorm on the best ways to prevent and to save companies of their reputation that comes from foodborne illnesses and bad food production habits, etc,” he said.
He stressed that the importance of the summit could not be overemphasized, noting that producers usually found it difficult to export due to the poor quality of food produced in the country.
“Also, for the growers in the country, we find it difficult to store because we have bad storage habits.
“It also not a secret anymore that companies lose their reputations as well as monies, as a matter of fact, millions of dollars as a result of food borne illnesses.
“We also lose alot of lives as alot of people fall ill due to the consumption of bad and contaminated foods.
“So, we have come together now to review and revise all the ideas and to also teach people good manufacturing habits and modern practices which regulatory bodies are aligned to.
“We also teach about the critical points and all the hazards that are associated with food safety,” he said.
Nimatullah Braimah, a Senior Scientific Officer in the Quality Assurance and Development department of FCCPC said the primary mandate of the commission was to protect consumers against unwholesome and unsafe foods.
She noted that food safety was a collaborative effort by all stakeholders, adding that everyone had a responsibility and part to play right from the farmer, the regulatory bodies to the consumer.
“So, we as FCCPC also ask consumers to buy quality products in the market and while purchasing products to always read labels and instructions given about the product.
“Most importantly, the consumers must ensure that they check date markings to ascertain the product’s manufacturing and expiry dates.
“By observing all these precautions, they are protecting themselves against unwholesome and substandard products.
“We as a commission also keep on educating and updating consumers on the best and most acceptable global practices,” she said.
Anne Iweka from the Food and Drug Services Department, Federal Ministry of Health said the objective of the summit was primarily to chart the way forward for all stakeholders in the industry.
“We are here at the food safety summit to chart the way forward to engender food hygiene and sensitise farmers, food handlers, processors, manufacturers on the issue of food safety in the country.
“The government have been involving the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to come together and chart the way forward in the issue of better food safety in the country.
“This is we do by carrying out sensitization awareness to food handlers across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
“We the regulators all come together to constitute the National Food Safety and Management Committee which is being domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Health.
“Our objective is basically to chart the way forward in ensuring a high level of food safety in the country,” she said.
Ndubuisi Nwachukwu, the Secretary of NISCN, FCT Branch noted that food safety in Nigeria was non-negotiable.
“Anyone who thinks safety is expensive should try accident and you will find out that accident is more costly than being safe.
“Safety indeed is everyone’s business and NISCN has been in existence since 1964 and ensuring that Nigerians in work places are safe.
“The National Food Safety Summit therefore is going to help ensure that everything we consume is safe because the safer the food, the healthier the food,” he said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)