NIGERIA – The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has teamed up with the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Codex Committee (NCC) under the Federal Ministry of Health, to organize a two-day “Awareness Creation Workshop on Codex Alimentarius Standards and Codes of Practice”.

The workshop under the theme: “Safer Food, Better Health”, with the slogan, “Food Safety is Every One’s Business”, was meant to create awareness among farmers, processors as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the use of safety standards in food value chain to enhance people’s health.

The FAO Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Fred Kafeero, who was represented by the FAO Codex Programme Officer, Mrs. SaAdiya Haliru, assured that FAO would continue to support Nigeria to improve Codex standards for the attainment of the nation’s food security.

In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who is also the Chairman, National Codex Committee (NCC), said the workshop was organized under the Codex Trust Fund 2 (CTF2), as reported by The Sun Nigeria.

CTF2 funds in-country capacity building projects that in turn encourages the implementation of measures to strengthen national food control systems based on Codex standards, codes of practice and guidelines.

The Minister, represented by the National Coordinator, Food Safety and Quality Programme in the ministry, Mr. Atanda John, expressed concern that little or no attention was being given to the issue of safety practice, quality and standards in food production, processing and trading.

He attributed the increasing rate of food borne diseases worldwide and rejection of food from Nigeria at the international market to such levels of negligence.

WHO records that `every year, worldwide, nearly an estimated 600 million people fall ill and 420,000 die after eating food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances.

“Over 200 diseases are caused by eating contaminated food and the magnitude of public health burden due to food borne diseases is comparable to that of malaria or HIV/AIDS, while the negative impact of economic and productivity losses cannot be over-emphasized,” he quoted the WHO as saying.

Mallam Farouk Salim, the Director-General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), also gracing the occasion via a representative, defined the Codex food standards as international standard documents that protect consumer health, facilitate global trade and economic development.

Through his stand-in Ms. Tosan Akosile, Head of Mandatory Assessment Programme (MANCAP), Salim informed that while the workshop was meant for stakeholders from the Northern region, they would organize another for the Southern region.

This would improve knowledge and understanding of Codex standards among critical stakeholders in the food value chain in the country, he concluded.

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