By Tabora Bojang
The Food Safety and Quality Authority has acquired a new laboratory material which it believes would significantly reduce the sending of suspected contaminated foods for inspection outside the country.
The laboratory material donated by the West Africa Competitiveness Programme funded by the EU and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation UNIDO were handed over to the Authority’s principal food inspector Bakanding Fofana at WACOMP’s office in Sukuta during the weekend.
Speaking to The Standard shortly after receiving the new laboratory tools, Mr Fofana said the safety of foods consumed in the country is of huge importance to the FSQA.
“This equipment will definitely help us to be able to monitor and identify hazards within a short period as compared to before when if we suspected certain items, we have to take samples and send them to an accredited laboratory outside the country and that comes with a cost to the Authority,” Principal Inspector Fofana said.
“We want to ensure that everyone in this country consumes food that is healthy and safe and free from any form of hazardous material. All our inspectors have been trained and they are all competent to use this equipment which will enhance our day-to-day operation to ensure that the food that are brought or processed in this country are safe,” he said.
Mr Fofana explained that the tools will be able to conduct tests on basic food items such juices and fruits and palm oil adulterations.
“Once you do the test, the result is provided within seconds. So this will help us to monitor the products on time,” Fofana said of the equipment.
Lumana Kamashi from the European Union said the donation is in line with WACOMP’s quest to develop Gambia’s quality infrastructure system by strengthening the technical capacity and competence of the conformity assessment institutions.
“This equipment will help the FSQA to access the safety and quality of raw materials, intermediary and finished food products including signals of possible adulteration. It is our hope that the institution will judiciously utilise these valuable materials to help enhance their competence in relation to food conformity, assessment in the country and better serve the Gambian people.”
UNIDO’s international expert Adalberto Viera expressed hope that the equipment will significantly boost public trust that foods consumed in the country are safe.
The Plant Protection Services, The Agricultural Extension Services and The Gambia Standards Bureau have also received field equipment.