The Federal Government is working to stop the rejection of Nigerian food produce at the international market. To this effect, a draft Food Safety and Quality Bill has been developed and would soon be sent to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval and to the National Assembly to be passed as an Act of parliament.
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who disclosed this yesterday at a meeting of Inter-ministerial Committee on Food Safety in Abuja, said government is planning to establish a system to ensure that only safe and wholesome food and products are traded within the country’s territory.
He added that this would ensure significant reduction in food-borne diseases, strengthen institutional capacity for food safety and sustainable, effective trade that would boost the economy.
Adewole, who was represented by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, observed that food safety is paramount, adding that unsafe food is injurious to health as some life threatening diseases and deaths worldwide are caused by unsafe food items.
He said: “Improper storage of food can lead to contamination by biological agents. The World Health Organisation (WHO) report shows that one in ten persons get sick due to food borne organisms. In the African region, it is estimated that about 91 million people fall ill, while over a 100,000 persons in Africa dies due to food borne diseases carried by pathogens, micro biological contaminants and chemical contaminants”.
He noted that the ministry has made significant strides in developing a functional and effective food control and safety system starting with the production of National Policy on Food Safety and its implementation strategies in 20014 and has trained food inspectors and private food managers across the country on best practices safety.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh said some of the nation’s food produce have been rejected in recent times at the international market. He disclosed that the government through the Inter-Ministerial Committee ensures that before any food produce is packaged for export, a check is usually done to ensure that they meet international standards.
Ogbeh said that Nigeria must establish food standards not only for the rest of the world but also for its citizens.