The Director General/ Chief Executive Officer, Standards Organisations of Nigeria (SON), Mallam Farouk Salim, reiterated the critical role of food safety standards in safe guarding health , promoting economic growth and ensuring the well – being of the nation in Abuja on Wednesday at the Symposium to commemorate the 2023 World Food Safety Day.
The Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the National Food Safety Management Committee, organized a ministerial press briefing with the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Engr. Adeniyi Afolabi, to mark this year’s World Food Safety Day.
In his keynote address, delivered by Mr. Y. B. Mohammed, Head, Food Group/SON Codex Contact Point, the Director General stressed that food standards are not just regulatory measures; he explained that food standards provide the minimum requirements for protecting consumers from foodborne illnesses, contamination and fraudulent practices.
According to Salim, as custodians of food standards in Nigeria, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria has been steadfast in its commitment to protecting the health and safety of Nigerians. He noted that SON works tirelessly to develop and enforce robust food safety standards, which serve as a vital framework for stakeholders across the industry, guiding them towards best practices and ensuring that the food consumed in country meets the highest safety benchmarks.
Highlighting on the theme of the event “Food Standards Save Lives” Salim explained that the theme resonates profoundly on the collective mission and critical importance of upholding and promoting rigorous food safety standards, in a world where food travels far and wide, across borders and culture.
He went on to note that by adhering to the quality and safety requirements prescribed in the Nigerian Industrial Food Standard, we minimize risks, foster public confidence in the safety and quality of food purchased and consumed nationwide.
The SON helmsman stressed that” food, as a necessity of life, should nourish and sustain us. However, without proper standards and regulations in place, food can become a potential source of hazard, posing severe risk to individuals and the communities alike”.
He explained that as a nation, we must remain vigilant, proactive and adaptive in our approach to food safety as rapid changes in global food production, supply chains and emerging technologies demand continuous improvement and innovation of our standards and regulatory frameworks.
He congratulated the Federal Ministry of Health; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); World Health Organisation (WHO); Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO); Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition(GAIN), relevant Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies and all other International and local organizations who supported the successful hosting and commemoration of the 2023 World Food Safety Day.
He enjoined all relevant stakeholders to reaffirm their commitment to enhancing food safety across the food safety value chain. Salim charged them to empower and educate consumers to make informed choices and demand safe food, explaining that ensuring food safety is not the sole responsibility of regulatory bodies or industry stakeholders but a collective effort that requires collaboration, education and awareness among all participants in the food value chain.
The event included the issuance of Certificates of Commendation for Contribution to Codex work in Nigeria and Technical Presentations by Food Experts. The Panel of Discussions explored ideas around “the state of food safety in Nigeria”, and the impact of Food Safety on Public Health, the National economy and market systems.
A notable presentation was that of Dr. (Mrs.) Margaret Eshiett, Retired Director of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria and former SON Codex Contact Point on the “Nigeria Codex Committee: Historical Perspective and its Importance to Local and International Trade”.
There was a presentation and launching of a “Consumers Pocket Guide on Food Safety and Nutrition and also a tour of Food Expo Stands.
The event had in attendance development partners, food and nutrition experts, policy makers, academicians, the press and members of the general public.