Stakeholders have appealed to the National Assembly to speed up action on the passage of the 2019 National Food Safety and Quality Bill into law.
They made the appeal on Tuesday in Abuja during the validation workshop on the 2023 revised National Policy on Food Safety and Quality and its Implementation Plan.
The Director and National Coordinator, Food and Safety Programme, Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, John Atanda, said that the policy which was being validated needs the necessary legislation for implementation.
He said, “This bill is supposed to complement the policy to give it more strength and a powerful transformation to food safety in Nigeria. Based on the provision of this policy when it was first developed in 2015, it was set to modernise Nigeria’s food safety structure.
“So there was a need to have legislation to back it up and the National Food Safety and Health Committee that was established by the provision of this policy developed the National Food Safety and Quality Bill.
“It went to the Federal Executive Council and was approved and then transmitted to the National Assembly. It passed through all the legislative process and was sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent but was not assented to before the expiration of his administration.”
The Director, Food and Drug Services, Olubunmi Aribeana, in her address, said that in Nigeria, research has shown that over 200,000 people reportedly die from food poisoning and contamination annually.
Aribeana, who was represented by the Director, Food, Chemical Cosmetics and Water Safety Division, Adeola Olufowobi-Yusuf, noted that Nigeria needs a more robust and comprehensive policy to strengthen the food safety and quality sector.
“The Federal Government in January 2015 in partnership with the critical stakeholders in the food sector, inaugurated the National Policy on Food Safety and its Implementation Strategy.
“This was to provide the government with the needed framework and to modernise the national food safety control system in line with international standards.
“Based on government determination to modernise and strengthen its National Food Safety Control and Management System in line with global best practices and standards, the ministry and its partners have reviewed the existing National Food Safety Policy document, to address the identified inherent gaps.
“This version will provide the framework for upgrading national capacity to develop and operate an integrated food safety control system to achieve more effective collaboration and coordination between agencies responsible for the food quality control system in Nigeria,” she stated.
The Advancing Nutrition Project, Technical Advisor in USAID, Micheal Eveshoyan, said that the project works to ensure food safety and nutritious foods are available for all Nigerians for productivity and resilience.
“We say that no food is nutritious if the food is not safe therefore we say that food safety is also a paramount in advancing nutrition.”
He added that it is hoped that once the policy is validated, the action plan would be followed to ensure that Nigerians have a document to protect what they eat.