Cholera: NAFDAC warns food suppliers to implement food safety culture

As a result of the outbreak of Cholera, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has called on all stakeholders in the food supply chain to take deliberate actions to institute a food safety culture in their operations.

The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, said maintaining a safety culture would mitigate the food hazards and risks that could compromise food safety.

Prof Adeyeye, gave the admonition at the 2024 World Food Safety Day with the theme ‘Food Safety: Prepare for the Unexpected’.

World Food Safety Day came into existence in 2018 by the United Nations General Assembly after it was suggested by the Codex Alimentarius Commission as a way of raising food safety awareness and promoting collaboration across sectors.

According to WHO, one in ten people become sick and 420,000 die each year after consuming contaminated food which is attributed to the loss of 33 million years of healthy life with children under five years and other vulnerable groups disproportionately affected in the poorer areas of the world. In developing countries, about $110 billion is lost every year on medical expenses due to unsafe food.

Prof Adeyeye, however, said that food safety is not only important for public health but a sine qua non for economic development and food security.

She emphasised that everybody has a role to play from the farm to the table to ensure that the food consumed is safe and will not cause damage to health.

Prof Adeyeye noted that food safety is a collective responsibility, adding that everyone from producers to consumers need to play their part to be sure that the food we eat is safe, adding that the campaign aims to promote global food safety awareness to strengthen efforts of preventing, detecting and managing foodborne risks globally by highlighting the importance of being prepared for food safety incidents.

Consequently, she mentioned that the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has developed programmes for the elimination, eradication, prevention and control of diseases, which include the National Integrated Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Surveillance and Response which is useful for preparedness and rapid response to emerging and re-emerging foodborne diseases.

She, however, noted that this year’s theme calls for all stakeholders from regulatory officers, experts, and producers, to processors, distributors, retailers, restaurant outlets and consumers to consider if they are indeed prepared for the unexpected.

‘’Let us all stay true to the statements ‘food safety is everyone’s business’ and ‘food safety is a shared responsibility’” as we celebrate this year’s World Food Safety Day. Working together we will continue to strengthen our food safety system, ensuring its resilience, robustness and preparedness for the unexpected.’’

Speaking on ‘Developing a Food Safety Emergency Response Plan: Implementation of the National Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Surveillance and Response’, the Director of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN), Mrs Eva Edwards, warned that foodborne diseases are expensive, yet they are preventable.

She recalled that in recent years, the global community as well as our national government recognised the public health effect of foodborne diseases as capable of causing a considerable burden of diseases and mortality.

She emphasised the significance of food as a necessity for human life, stressing that it can also be a source of harm if not handled properly.

Edwards said that food safety emergency response must be anchored on a multisectoral, collaborative, integrated one-health approach across the Health, Agriculture, and Environment sectors, the tiers of government including relevant external partners and non-governmental organisations.

The objective is to have a coordinated approach to investigating foodborne disease outbreaks and contributing knowledge and skills from the different sectors to achieve a robust and comprehensive investigation.

She said that the mix of skills will bring to the fore the robustness of the investigation, adding that the emergency response team may include epidemiologists, laboratory scientists, environmental health officers, and food safety control officers, amongst others.

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