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City of Banjul
Wednesday, September 23, 2020

FAO rep: Food safety essential to food security

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Aja Mariatou Njie made these statements at the Kairaba Beach hotel Tuesday while addressing delegates on food security from West African countries . She said:

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“Effective food safety and quality management systems are key not only to safeguarding the health and well-being of people but also to fostering economic development and improving livelihood by promoting access to domestic, regional and international markets. FAO is a leader in the development of global food safety initiatives and translating these into country level action. The food safety and quality programme supports an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to food safety management and holistic and feasible ‘food chain’ solutions to specific food safety problems. The foundations for this approach are based on science.

FAO supports member countries in developing their capacities to effectively manage food safety and quality as a key step to safeguarding the health and well-being of people as well as to accessing domestic, regional and international markets. Capacity development in food safety and quality is the process through which relevant stakeholders from farm to the table (including government agencies, food enterprises, academia and consumers) are able to better perform their functions and to assume their responsibilities in ensuring safety and quality of food for domestic consumption and export.” 

She added: “The volume of world food trade is enormous and is valued at between US$300 and US$400 billion. A principal concern of national governments is that food imported from other countries should be safe and not jeopardise the health of consumers or pose a threat to the health and safety of their animal and plant populations. Consequently, governments of importing countries have introduced mandatory regulations to eliminate or minimise such threats .In the area of food, animal and plant control,I believe these measures could be conducive to the creation of barriers to inter-country food trade.” 

Deputising the head of the Civil Service and Minister for Presidential Affairs, Rohie Bittaye-Darboe of the Office of the President reminded the gathering that the government “is very much concerned with the safety and quality of food produced, imported and consumed in the country.”

She continued: “The Food Act of 2005 was reviewed, and a new Food Safety and Quality Act 2011 was enacted by parliament, leading to the establishment of Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA) in 2013. This Authority is under the purview of the Office of the President and is responsible for overall official control of the safety and quality of food, water, beverages and animal feed, along the food chain from production up to its supply to the final consumer. The Authority is expected to contribute to consumer health and safety, facilitate trade and control fraudulent and deceptive food marketing, labeling and advertising practices”.

For Dr Raphael Coly of the inter-African bureau for animal resources, in order to sustain the effective participation of African delegates in Codex standards setting process and to maintain the successes gained more resources and coordination are needed.

 “Each country needs to set a structured Codex committee with a defined objective, clear mandate and role, and a budget for its functioning. Each country is requested to organise national consultation and to advise the government to submit national positions”, he said.

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