Proposed food law to emphasise risk analysis

World Health Organisation commemoration breakfast seminar held at GICC
World Health Organisation commemoration breakfast seminar held at GICC

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is reviewing the Food Control Act of 1993 to broaden its scope and focus on risk analysis, a senior government official has said.

Haruna Jibril, the acting Deputy Permanent Secretary for MoH said in the review, there is a proposal for the establishment of a food safety authority to address harmonisation of food control systems, with a new emphasis on risk analysis. Speaking during the commemoration of World Health Day on Food Safety, he explained that the MoH wants to develop better knowledge on the incidence and causes of food poisoning, effective policies to minimise associated risks to health and to determine the microbiological, chemical and physical quality and safety of the food.

Jibril stated that despite the concerted efforts by governments to improve the safety of food supply, food borne disease outbreaks remain a significant health risk. “Food borne diseases are widespread and represent a significant threat to health and economies of countries. Food borne diseases are estimated to affect 30 percent of the population in industrialised countries at some time in a given year,” he explained.

He said in the last two decades, dramatic episodes of food borne disease accidents and outbreaks have raised concern about the effectiveness of food control systems in protecting consumers. This has sparked increased attention to the regulatory frameworks that govern food safety and food trade.

“Unease over microbiological and chemical contaminants of food chain and the use of food additives, pesticides and veterinary drugs, as well as heightened consumer interest in diet related health issues, have also raised the profile of food safety control systems,” he said.  WHO representative in Botswana, Felicitas Zawaira, said there is an urgent need for government, food businesses, food handlers and consumers to put measures in place that would improve food safety from the point of production to consumption.

She said unsafe food and water are linked to deaths of an estimated two million people in the world annually. In Africa more people; such as infants, pregnant women and those with underlying illnesses are particularly vulnerable.

“For example, in 2014 there were more than 100,000 cases of cholera in 22 countries resulting in over 1,700 deaths. So far this year, cholera outbreaks in 13 countries have led to over 200 deaths out of more than 13,000 cases,” she said. Zawaira pointed out that there is a growing concern over the increase of resistant micro-organisms entering the food chain which calls for the production of safe food facilities and alignment of food guidelines with codex standards, building and maintaining adequate food systems.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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