The Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Nigeria, Mr Fred Kafeero, on Thursday identified enabling legal and political frameworks as some of the ways to ensure food safety in Africa’s most populous nation.
Kafeero stated this in Lagos during his opening remarks at the event marking the 2021 World Food Safety Day, jointly organised by the FAO and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He added that with strong institutional and competent personnel who could enforce implementation, Nigeria would also make great steps in ensuring food safety.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the World Food Safety Day is marked annually on June 7.
The day is set aside to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage food-borne risks, contribute to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, among others.
Kafeero said that food safety played an important role in improving food and nutrition security.
He said this was because food-borne diseases exacerbated nutrient deficiencies and food-borne parasitic infections had huge economic consequences.
“Food safety is a fundamental prerequisite when talking about issues on nutrition and market access.
“We witness and continue to observe what we call megatrends in this country, including rising population growth and rapid urbanisation.
“Effective food safety systems are key to not only safeguarding the health and well-being of the people but also to fostering economic development and improving livelihoods,” he said.
Kafeero pointed out that FAO had been providing technical and financial support toward the drafting of the national food safety and quality bill which is currently before the National Assembly.
“We also play a role in strengthening capacities, including providing space for national experts in gauging global discussions that influence control,” he said.
The FAO representative urged all stakeholders and partners to play their roles in ensuring food safety because it was a shared responsibility, “from farm to table.”
“This is not only the role of government but for all of us and we should raise more awareness about food safety and its importance to the general health and economy of the country,” Kafeero said.
Similarly, Dr Walter Mulombo, WHO Representative in Nigeria, said that there was a need to work together with the government to reduce the risks associated with consuming unsafe foods.
According to him, globally, people cumulatively fall ill about 600 million times after eating contaminated foods, adding that there is no food security without food safety.
He said that the global theme for the 2021 World Food Safety Day, ‘Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow’, emphasised the production and consumption of safe food as immediate and long term benefits for people, the planet and the economy.
“In supporting Nigeria, it is expedient to take into cognizance the need to revive institutional systems for a functional food safety inspection and enforcement.
“We also should pursue aggressive food system awareness from farm to table,” Mulombo said. (NAN)