7 July 2021, Banjul – The fight against the high rate of hidden hunger (micronutrients deficiencies) in The Gambia received a huge boost on 7 July with the launch of Food Fortification Regulations targeting three highly consumed foods in The Gambia.
The Food Fortification Regulations 2020 provide the necessary legal authority and a Regulatory Framework to implement an effective food fortification programme for better nutrition.
The Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA) under the Office of the Vice President developed the regulations that are based on national and international standards through a participatory stakeholder consultative process with to funding from the European Union (EU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) co-funded project titled “Improving Food Security and Nutrition in The Gambia through Food Fortification”. The regulations were published in the Government’s Gazette in 2020 and thus made it mandatory for importers and manufacturers of wheat flour, salt and edible fats and oils to fortify their products with adequate levels of specified minerals and vitamins.
The integrated initiative aims to contribute towards the reinforcement of the regulatory systems and promote public-private partnerships in food fortification for the elimination of malnutrition in all its forms, leaving no one behind. The action is in line with the Food Safety and Quality Authority Act 2011, the FAO-Gambia Country Programming Framework 2018-2022, the National Development Plan 2018 – 2021, African Union Agenda 2063, UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016 – 2025, and the Sustainable Development Goals – Agenda 2030.
Her Excellency Dr. Isatou Touray, Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia presided over the launching on behalf of President Adama Barrow at a ceremony held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre.
In his launching statement read by Her Excellency Vice President Touray, His Excellency President Adama Barrow outlined the importance of the regulations towards the attainment of optimal public health and sustainable socio-economic growth and development emphasizing “we are what we eat”.
The President’s Statement called on producers, manufacturers, importers and distributors of wheat flour, edible oil, and salt to comply with the regulations to improve the micronutrient status of the Gambian population and by extension protect the health of the consumers. He assured the public of Government’s support for the effective enforcement of the regulations.
He said: “I am equally urging consumers of these foods to demand for safe and nutritious food by making informed choices. I wish to take this opportunity to encourage the media to disseminate information on food safety, quality, and nutrition to all stakeholders, to facilitate behavioral change among our population for a better health outcome”.
H.E. President Barrow conveyed his Government’s sincere appreciation to the European Union and the FAO, noting that his Government is aware of the continuous support that the EU and FAO have accorded to the FSQA since its establishment. He concluded his statement with a call for a united food systems approach for the forthcoming UN Food Systems Summit to be held in New York later this year in September.
In her statement, Ms. Moshibudi Rampedi, FAO Country Representative commended the Government, the EU and all other stakeholders for the achievement describing it as a culmination of a strong partnership and a manifestation of strong commitment towards improving the food and nutrition security of vulnerable women and children. Through Government’s leadership and European Union’s support, we can ensure access to and consumption of micronutrient-rich foods, industrially fortified as well as bio-fortified food for promoting better nutrition outcomes, she noted.
Ms. Rampedi stressed the need for concerted actions and effort for the achievement of the desired goal. She said: “We owe citizens the right to consume food that is sufficient in quantity and quality to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life’.
The launch of the Food Fortification Regulations 2020 highlighted the impact of food fortification on the nutritional status of target populations and the the need to monitor appropriate corrective action as required. The FSQA assured the attendees that the regulations will be promoted and that effective regulatory controls will be conducted to protect Gambian consumers.
Amadou Sowe, Chairman, FSQA Board of Directors made a passionate appeal to the business community to take ownership of the regulations and contribute towards building a healthier and better Gambia. He explained that the FSQA has its doors open to genuine stakeholder for effective partnership.