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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Food Safety says most critics of its work lack awareness

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By Alagie Manneh

The Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA) has cited a “lack of awareness” of it operations as factors responsible for some of the bad name it seems to get from the public.

Public opinion has been against the Authority for apparently failing to discharge its functions in holding food business operators to account.

But the DG of the Authority said such perceptions are attributable to a lack of understanding and knowledge of the nature of the Authority’s mandate.

“I think there’s a total lack of awareness,” Mamoudu Bah said. “Going forward, the media will find a way to work with our communications unit. There are activities and sensitisations that we can do together because there is nobody who is not concerned. Mr Bah was addressing journalists yesterday at a media briefing at the FSQA’s headquarters along Kairaba Avenue.

He said one way to make the FSQA popular and admired in the eyes of the public again is for the Authority to be seen to be doing its job. “Let our work tell the public about us. We shouldn’t just be doing the talking, we should be doing the work, and that’s what we have been doing. There’s a lot of water that has passed under the bridge, and we have worked tirelessly over the past years and are still striving to become an institution of excellence. The fact is, we are very much advanced in our food control system,” DG Bah said.

FAO food testing equipment

In 2022, the FAO handed over food testing laboratory equipment to the FSQA as part of the EU’s co-funded Improving Food Security and Nutrition in The Gambia.

Donated the through Food Fortification project, the equipment was to enable the FSQA to improve the legislative and regulatory environment for food fortification.

Asked why the equipment is not being utilised, Mr Bah intimated that “there are things that need to be in place first.

“This equipment relies on standards and certain consumables that need to be present for it to run and continue running and those are not available. We are working on that. I think right now, there’s a procurement process that is on-going to buy these consumables. But for the field equipment, we are using those,” he said.

Expired foods

When it comes to the food control system, Mr Bah said, “an expired food is one of the least of our worries, because an expired food doesn’t mean that the food is dangerous or is toxic to the human being. It means that the guarantee for that food is no longer assured. So, if you consume it, it’s like you are consuming it at your own risk.”

He said what is most important is whether or not packaged food is spoiled. “We are working very hard to remove all spoiled products from the shelves,” he stated.

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