NIGERIA – The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Nigeria has rolled out regional awareness and sensitization workshops on the importance of Codex Alimentarius standards and codes of practice for food safety.

Mr. David Tsokar, Communications Specialist for FAO, said the aim of the sensitization was to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the international food trade.

This, he said, would be achieved by educating the key stakeholders on the importance of food safety standards and codes, and as such ensure the safety, quality and fairness in international food trade, the Codex Alimentarius or Food Code.

“This is a collection of international standards, guidelines and codes of practice adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission,” he said.

Speaking at the workshops in Kano and Lagos States, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who chairs the National Codex Committee (NCC), highlighted the issues of food safety practices to participants.

He advised them to pay attention to quality and standards in food production and processing, to ease trade facilitation, especially at the international markets, as reported by the News Agency of Nigeria.

The NCC membership in Nigeria is made of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the Private sector, All Farmers Association, Research Institutes and the Food Industry.

The Minister pointed out that little or no attention was given to the issue of safety, quality and standards in food production, processing and trading and that it was high time to take the message down to the grassroots for awareness.

In the same way, Malam Farouk Salim, Director-General, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), harped on the need for enhanced synergy between regulatory agencies, the private sector and research institutes. He said this would continually contribute to the efforts of ensuring food safety in the country.

Mr. Fred Kafeer, FAO Representative in Nigeria, noted that food safety is an essential path to sustainable food security and could be attained by establishing workable food safety control systems.

Kafeer, represented by the project’s Focal Point, Mrs. Saadiya Haliru, also noted that the safety control systems could transform to international food standards.

At the end of the workshops, it was agreed upon that Local Education Levels Communication (IEC) handbooks by FAO, should be interpreted and translated into different local languages for distribution.

NCC might also soon include journalists in their team to effectively assist in the dissemination of information, as part of the recommendations during the workshop.

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