Nigeria Launches Revised National Policy on Food Safety 

Nigeria Launches Revised National Policy on Food Safety 

Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Mohammed Ali Pate, on Friday, launched the revised National Policy on Food Safety and Quality document with its implementation plan. 

The minister said the launch marked a significant milestone in efforts to achieve food safety, adding the policy, which is rooted in the “One Health” approach, addresses a spectrum of critical areas.

Pate further inaugurated four inter-sectoral Technical Working Groups (TWGs) in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and partners, in commemoration of the World Food Safety Day.

Speaking at the ceremony in Abuja, the minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in ministry, Daju Kachollom, said the food safety policy framework encompasses the principles of risk analysis, including issues of emerging contaminants within the food chain, and the establishment of an integrated food-borne disease surveillance and response system.

He said the document further sets forth benchmarks for safe handling, marketing, and sale of food throughout the country.

The minister pointed out that the TWGs would provide expertise and leadership to drive effective communication, capacity building and strategic partnerships among stakeholders, as part of continued efforts to strengthen and harmonise Nigeria’s regulatory environment and risk-based food safety systems, while improving industry engagement in the national regulatory processes and compliance with international food safety standards.

The TWGs, approved by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in January 2024 focus on risk-based regulations, risk analysis in food and feed safety as well as Food and Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) inspection.

Their functions also include traceability and supporting technologies as well as education for all stakeholders and research.

In her remarks, Programme Manager, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS), Kelly Scavella, said the groups will help to modernise Nigeria’s food system among others.

She said, “We are partnering with the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other Nigerian stakeholders to help build food safety systems that are relevant to consumers, producers and regulators. 

“The TWGs have been set up to modernise Nigeria’s food safety regulatory framework in line with international best practices to address food safety concerns and facilitate the development of a strong agriculture and food industry.          

“Over the last decade, the Nigerian government has implemented important changes to bolster food safety by examining and enhancing critical components of the national food safety control system.”

Scavella said, “Harnessing the expertise of the TWGs aligns with the core mission of World Food Safety Day, emphasising the importance of collaboration and innovation in safeguarding food and feed safety. 

“As we commemorate this global initiative, the launch of these TWGs underscores Nigeria’s commitment to ensuring safe and reliable access to food across Nigeria.”

However, prior to the passage of the Food Safety and Quality Bill into law, the minister in partnership with the USDA, the Food and Agriculture Export Alliance (FAEA), the University of Missouri’s Africa Food Safety Initiative (AFSI) and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) convened stakeholders for a prioritisation workshop in December 2022, which led recommendations to create TWGs comprised of experts from the public, private and academic sectors to support the development of science-based regulations.

In 2023, the National Assembly passed the Food Safety and Quality Bill. While the 2023 election and competing priorities delayed the passage of the Bill, the competent authorities continued to advance the modernisation agenda by re-convening stakeholders for an expertise coordination workshop in November 2023. 

The workshop aimed to scout for the expertise needed for the TWGs and set an agenda for capacity building for both the TWG members, leaders, and influencers of the food value chains.

James Emejo

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