Piqued by the death of 200,000 Nigerians annually from food poisoning, the United Nation, Food and Agricultural Organisation, (FAO), and World Health Organisation (WHO) have called on the Federal Government to urgently re-appraise the nation’s food system.
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Matthias Schmale, stated that with a startling 200, 000 people dying of food poisoning, there was a need to raise food safety to priority lists in the country.
He stressed: “We need to raise awareness and sensitise Nigerians on the dangers of unsafe food because it really does not get adequate attention. A message at the core of this campaign is: ‘If it is not safe, it is not food.’ This needs to be taken to heart in Nigeria because it will save lives.”
Speaking during a panel discussion to mark World Food Safety Day yesterday at the UN House in Abuja, Schmale urged regulatory agencies to diligently implement policy measures and legal frameworks that would strengthen the national food safety system and ensure it complies with food safety standards.
Noting that food safety is key to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2, Schmale stated that the UN system would support the government to improve food safety and the transformation of Nigeria’s food systems.
The Head of Mission, WHO, Dr Walter Kazadi, in his remarks, stressed the need for Nigeria to improve food supply chains to prevent hazards, microbial pathogens, chemical residues, biotoxins and other noxious substances from getting into the food.
Kazadi, who was represented by the Deputy Country Rep, Alexander Chimber, said: “We all have a role to play, whether we grow, process, transport, store, sell, buy, prepare or serve food, food safety is in all our hands, including the consumers.”
If we work together, we can all help achieve safer food and better health.”
FAO Country Representative, Fred Kafeero, expressed concern that the nation’s food chain is still exposed to chemical inputs, some of them hazardous.
He stressed that with enabling legal and policy frameworks coupled with strong institutional and competent personnel for enforcing implementation, Nigeria will make great steps in food safety for its people.
He said: “All stakeholders and partners should play their roles and raise more awareness about food safety because of its importance to general health and the economy.”