By Oumie Mendy
Food Safety and Quality Authority on Tuesday convened a two-day stakeholder consultative forum on the National Food Safety Policy at the Sir Dawda International conference center.
The new policy is aimed at establishing and maintaining an integrated ‘farm to fork’ food safety system that ensures consumer health and public safety with an effective food control system in the country. The forum accorded the FSQA officials the opportunity to discuss with stakeholders in the areas of food safety and quality.
The deputy permanent secretary at the office of the vice president, Ramou Sarr said the adoption and implementation of the National Food Safety Policy is expected to strengthen a robust, effective and efficient food control system in the country.
“The policy will provide a basis for the establishment of national food safety objectives, requirements and guidance for application to specific sectors of the food chain, that is, from farm to fork.
“Through the adoption and promulgation of this Policy, the Government of The Gambia reaffirms its commitment to fulfilling its constitutional obligation of ensuring safer and better food for its population,” she said.
She said the forum is inaugurated in accordance with the Food Safety and Quality Act 2011 which established the Food Safety and Quality Authority of The Gambia and its attendant structures.
“Members of the forum shall note that one of their key responsibilities is ensure that stakeholder views and concerns are taken into account with regard to food safety in the country,” she said.
Also speaking at the meeting, the FSQA board chair, Dr Amadou Sowe said the policy is a product of a food safety situational analysis conducted in 2010 through a multi sector stakeholder consultative process which was later reviewed by an international consultant.
“The main goal of this draft policy is to usher a well-coordinated approach in the regulation of food safety and to define strategies in achieving the goals of the National food control system and map out government’s goal and subsequent intervention in the policy thematic areas to establish mechanisms for coordinating food safety related activities in the Gambia.
“The existing legislation and regulations on food safety to promote harmonization, and synergy for food safety laws and strengthen the foodborne disease surveillance system, Coordinate and strengthen existing laboratory facilities to ensure an efficient food safety testing in the country” he added.
The WHO country rep, Dr Desta A Turuneh, said food safety and nutrition are becoming more complex in global food trade, as the WHO is striving to ensure a healthy population.
“Food safety is everyone’s business and therefore requires multi stakeholders’ action. Food passes through different hands and processes and its safety therefore requires an integrated approach,” Dr. Turuneh said.