• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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FG partners US govt to drive resilient food safety systems in Nigeria

food-market

The Nigerian government through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, has partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote safe food systems in Nigeria.

Both parties in furtherance of this mandate, inaugurated four inter-sectoral Technical Working Groups (TWGs) in Abuja on Friday.

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These groups include Risk-based regulations, risk analysis in food and feed safety; Food and SPS (Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary) inspection; Traceability and supporting technologies Education for all stakeholders and Research.

The TWGs will be expected to provide expertise and leadership to drive effective communication, capacity building and strategic partnerships among stakeholders, as part of continued efforts to strengthen and harmonize Nigeria’s regulatory environment and risk-based food safety systems.

Commenting on the unveiling of the TWGs to commemorate the 2024 World Food Day, Mohammed Ali Pate, Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare stated that moving beyond mere food safety, there was a need to ensure that foods are not only safe but essentially healthy.

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He explained that the revised National Policy lays out strategic plans to reduce the intake of salt, trans fatty acids, sugar, and alcohol, among others. This according to him will ensure the consumption of healthy diets in the country.

“We aim to alleviate the growing burden of non-communicable diseases that afflict our country.

“However, the implementation of this policy is not a solitary journey, it demands the concerted efforts of all parties at both National and Sub-National levels. This includes our diligent farmers who nurture the soil, the regulators who forge the guidelines, the scientists whose innovations enhance safety, and the consumers who make informed choices with every purchase and every bite.

“As we gather to mark the 2024 World Food Safety Day, we are reminded of the delicate balance that sustains this vital aspect of our lives.

Unveils revised National Policy on Food Safety and Quality

This year’s theme, ‘Food safety: prepare for the unexpected,’ is a clarion call to action, a reminder that vigilance is the guardian of our sustenance and unforeseen events that can compromise the integrity of our food supply,” he said.

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The minister who was represented by Daju Kachollom, Permanent Secretary, FMHSW, said that in the face of daunting challenges, the government’s resolve to ensure consumption of healthy food remains unshaken.

Commenting on the revised policy on Food Safety and Quality, the minister said that it is rooted in the one health approach, which seeks to address a spectrum of critical health issues.

According to him, the policy encompasses the principles of risk analysis, the issue of emerging contaminants within the food chain, and the establishment of an integrated foodborne disease surveillance and response system.

“Preparedness is not just a watchword but our shield against the unpredictable tides of adversity. It is with this spirit that the FMHSW, in concert with our esteemed stakeholders and partners, has meticulously revised the National Policy on Food Safety and Quality and its Implementation Plan. Today marks a significant milestone as we unveil this pivotal document.

“It sets forth benchmarks for the safe handling, marketing, and sale of food throughout our nation,” he said.

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In her remarks, Kelly Scavella, Program Manager, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) reiterated the commitment of the United States government to help build food safety systems that are relevant to consumers, producers and regulators.

She explained the TWGs have been set up to modernize Nigeria’s food safety regulatory framework in line with international best practices to address food safety concerns and facilitate the development of a strong agriculture and food industry.

“Over the last decade, the Nigerian government has implemented important changes to bolster food safety by examining and enhancing critical components of the national food safety control system.

“Harnessing the expertise of the TWGs aligns with the core mission of World Food Safety Day, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and innovation in safeguarding food and feed safety. As we commemorate this global initiative, the launch of these TWGs underscores Nigeria’s commitment to ensuring safe and reliable access to food across Nigeria.”