The Federal Government Of Nigeria Promised To Ensure Food Safety

The Federal Government says it is currently pushing for a food safety and quality bill, that seeks a healthier approach towards handling Nigerian foods for local consumption and exportation.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said that the Inter-Ministerial meeting was to help reduce the challenges of foodborne illnesses facing the country as well as to reduce the rejection of Nigerian food products being exported.
The Minister noted that the implementation strategy was produced with inputs from stakeholders in the public and private sectors.
”Food is a very essential component to the body, but sometime food can be hazardous to the health due to the process in which it has been produced.
”Global burden of food diseases show almost one in 10 people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food and 420, 000 people die as a result it.
”The point of the strategy is to help reduce the challenge of food borne illnesses facing the country as well as cut down the rejection of Nigerian export produce.
”Children under five years of age are particularly at a higher risk, with 125 000 children dying from foodborne disease yearly. Africa and South-East Asia are the hardest hit, ” he said.
He also said that food safety practices in Nigeria hold the key to the availability of safe and suitable food.
The minister pointed out that food safety would create public health awareness as well as related trade and economic benefits.
”There is need to establish food standard in the country starting with checking the kind of fertilisers, soil‎, seedlings, and chemicals used for pest and weed control in the cultivation processes.
”Hygiene is a major consideration when talking about food.”
Ehanire said that the inter-ministerial committee would ensure the policy document presented gets Federal Executive Council’s approval for onward pushing to the Legislature for legal backing.
”We are beginning to take appropriate measures to address from the moment the food is sown, to when it is grown and harvested.
”There are different steps,and there are different contaminants that could go in.‎
”These have adverse effects on health,and this is what we would be addressing and we intend to submit a policy document to the federal executive council on these issues which would enable us commence a legislative process too,” he said.
The membership of the IMCFS is composed of the Ministers in Charge of Health, Agriculture, Trade, Environment and Science & Technology.
On his part, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh expressed ‎worry over the unhealthy packaging of food that causes ailments and the rejection of food products in the foreign market.
He said that the foreigners who buy our food products wanted to know the source of the food,‎ how it was produced and they were talking of traceability of our food.
”For instance, what chemicals do we use to preserve them ? Are they applied in the right quantity? These are issues the inter-ministerial committee would be working on.
“Sometimes also,our smoked fish arrive EU markets and they find maggots in them, because we did not smoke them well.
”These are issues we are addressing and once we sort all these issues out, we would reach out to our foreign partners to improve trade,” Ogbe said.
‎Speaking further on rising concern of ailments and unhealthy food consumptions,Ogbe said,”one sick Nigerian is a loss to the nation’s economy and well being.
”It is always a pain seeing Nigerians on television, soliciting for N10 million to go to India for kidney disease.
”If we can avoid people falling sick through the food we eat and how we manage it, that is the first step in supporting the health program of the country.
”Some Nigerian agro-commodities have been rejected in global markets,and ‎it is a source of embarrassment to us.
”We are working on even exports of our yams, because of concerns on certifications.The Lebanese come in here and buy up our yams and export it through Ghana, and it is an embarrassment to us,” he said.
The UNIDO lead Technical Adviser, Dr Hussaini Shaukat, said that UNIDO would assist Nigeria to develop safe foods.
” When the quality is certified and the quantity is certified, what is remaining element is safety and we are here to work on the safety element “. He said.
Shaudat noted that in the nearest future, Nigerian products would be accepted globally.

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