By Franca Ofili
The Federal Government on Tuesday, launched the Unified Food Safety Training Manuals to reduce burden of food borne diseases in the country.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, performed the launching ceremony in Abuja.
He said that it was significant that food safety stakeholders in Nigeria came together, developed these first-of-its-kind training manuals which would be of great value in training farmers and food processors.
He added that the manuals would be useful to marketers and vendors “on the need to ensure that food sold, marketed and consumed are wholesome and meet national and international standards’’.
Ehanire said that in 2010, 31 hazard-causing food borne diseases were responsible for over 600 million illnesses and 420,000 deaths worldwide.
According to him, in 2014, the World Bank’s “Safe Food Imperative” found that the cost-of-illness of diarrhoea, attributable to food contamination, is about 10 dollars per case, with Nigeria estimated to lose about six billion dollars annually in productivity.
He said the statistics underscored why the health sector prioritised safety of foods sold, marketed and consumed in Nigeria.
The minister said the training manuals were for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System, principles and techniques with requirements for good hygiene and manufacturing practices along the food supply chains.
“The ministry desires to deliver on the goals of the National Policy on Food Safety and Implementation Strategy.
“It will also develop the manuals in collaboration with the National Food Safety Management Committee and stakeholders in the food supply chain sector,’’ he said.
Ehanire said that in line with the United Nations Resolution on strengthening food safety, the ministry would focus on food safety, as a serious element of public health that required concerted efforts.
He said the manuals would ensure that basic principles of food safety reached the grassroots and reduced the rate of preventable food borne diseases.
The minister said the manuals would increase consumer confidence in Nigerian foods and increase trade advantages for Nigerian foods in international markets.
He said the training materials were to develop human capacity in food safety system along the food supply chain.
“The development of the manuals was to focus on the need for the micro, small and medium food processes to be trained on food safety management systems,’’ Ehanire said.
He said the categories of food handlers targeted were farmers’ food processors, food service providers, food regulators, transporters, wholesalers, retailers and exporters of food.
According to him, the objective of the manuals is to build an effective food safety system in a bid to improve and maintain appropriate food safety practices that are in line with international best practices.
“It will promote continuing education for existing food safety handlers and other stakeholders and improve skills of relevant stakeholders involved in farming, processing, packaging, storage, transportation and distribution of food and food products at local and international markets.’’
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Alhaji Abdulaziz Maschi, said the ministry was mindful of the fact that food safety had become a priority in public health.
According to him, the ministry has been doing everything possible to ensure that wholesome food is accessible for production, consumption and trade.
He said the training manuals were a requirement for good hygiene and manufacturing practices along the food supply chain system with principles and techniques.
“The manuals were developed because in Nigeria and in most developing nations, there is paucity of training materials on food safety management system,” Mashi said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)