Health Minister tasks stakeholders on food safety

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said food-borne illnesses were consequence of poor food safety and poor hygiene practices.

Prof. Isaac Adewole

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said this in Ibadan at an awareness creation and sensitisation  programme on national policy on  food safety and its implementation strategy.

The minister,  who was represented by Mrs Anthonia Opara, the Director, Chemical and Water Safety Programme in the ministry, said food-borne illnesses were consequence of poor food safety and poor hygiene practices.

Adewole said that poor food safety,  starting from planting, harvesting, handling,  preparing  as well as the  last aspect of consumption along the food chain had  led to daily occurrence of food- borne illness.

The minister expressed regrets that in recent years,  the country had  been plagued with preventable food-borne disease outbreaks such as Cholera, Lassa,Typhoid Fever and chemical contamination.

He, however,  said that the health ministry had   placed great importance on food safety to ensure that only wholesome food and food products were consumed and traded in the country.

The minister  urged the Oyo  State Government to set up an Inter-Ministerial Food Safety Committee comprising states five  key ministries and a Special Desk Unit for food safety and quality structure.

He named the key ministries as  Health,  Agriculture, Environment, Water Resources and  Information.

”This will be in line with the policy approved by the National Council on Health so as to optimise the synergy between the federal and stats e to promote the health of the citizens,’’  Adewole said.

Adewole said that the Ministry of  Health,  with support from UNIDO,  decided to embark on a sensitisation campaign  on food safety awareness  in some selected states  to ensure food safety control.

The representative of UNIDO, Mr John Tehinse,​ said that food was critical to human life and  required for  sustenance.

He said that managing food supply to ensure its safety for human consumption was imperative for each nation and its food industry.

Tehinse  disclosed that over 200 food-borne illnesses  were known to arise from consumption of foods contaminated with harmful substances.

The UNIDO representative,  who spoke on “Reforming the Nigerian Institutional Framework for Food Safety: Implications for States and LGAs,’’  said that the current food safety systems were  not fit.

He suggested the  need for government at both the  federal and state levels to adopt a paradigm shift from the existing product focused to process-focused science- based food supply chain .

The Permanent Secretary, Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, Mr Victor Atilola, said  that safety of health of the citizens was one of the cardinal​  commitments  of the state government.

He said that the campaign on food safety was coming at the right time in the state, noting  that safety of   food for the citizens would  produce a healthy nation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)  reports that stakeholders at the forum included  the representatives of NAFDAC,  food vendors, bakers and  Association of Food Confectioneries of Nigeria.

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