A non-profit governmental organization, Food Hygiene Initiative of Nigeria (FHIN) has urged the National Assembly to pass the Nigeria Food Safety and Hygiene Surveillance Corps Bill into law to promote food safety and job creation.
The director-general of the organisation, Dr Jonah Karimu, made the call at the closing of a three-day training of 10th Batch of over 400 participants on food safety and hygiene organised by FHIN in Abuja.
Karimu expressed satisfaction over the progress of the bill which has passed second reading, adding if finally passed, it would go a long way to address poor food handling especially in rural communities.
According to him, the recent deaths in Kano as a result of food poisoning, could be prevented from reoccurring in other states of the federation if the bill is passed into law.
Karimu added that its implementation would also bring about job creation and safe food consumption in the country.
He stressed the need for Nigerians to ensure proper food handling and hygienic food consumption to help promote food safety and healthy living in the country, saying the organisation was not aimed at duplicating the work of NAFDAC, SON and other health agencies, but rather to complement their efforts.
According to him, it will act as a sister agency strictly on handling raw and cooked food especially at the rural communities.
“All food vendors in the country should be registered and captured in a database, so that whenever there is a case of food poisoning, it will be easy to dictate which vendor prepared the food.
“Our fight against food and water borne diseases is making progress as we recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Katsina State ministry of health in this regard.
“As we await the report from the committee on health care services, we humbly call on the government and policy makers to look at the various benefits the country stands to gain if the bill is finally passed.
“It is necessary we have an agency responsible for regulating, supervising, training and issuing license to persons participating in raw and cooked food handling business to prevent deaths as result to food poisoning,” he said.
The DG said food safety had become a dominant factor in governance due to its effects on public health, agriculture, trade and investment, poverty, hunger and tourism.
Karimu pointed out that food- borne ailments had become a global phenomenon affecting billions of people who suffered from diseases caused by contaminated and poorly cultivated, handled, processed or cooked food along the supply chain.
However, he maintained that the organisation was also saddled with the responsibility of educating consumers and food handlers on the importance of food safety and hygiene in line with pronouncement from WHO.
“This organisation has been aggressively promoting food hygiene standards and practices all over the nation with a specific mandate of ensuring good food for better health.
“The importance of this training cannot be over emphasised and our organisation is dedicated to education and training of food handlers, food operators as well as food administration to apply the best hygiene in Nigeria.
“We trained them as food hygiene officers to go to the field and educate food vendors and consumers on the dangers of consuming unhygienic food.
“The opportunity has exposed the trained participants to a knowledge that would enable them assist health workers in adopting modern techniques of food preservation to reduce food poisoning in the country,’’ he said.
The participants, recruited from all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, would serve as food safety and hygiene surveillance corps for the organisation. (NAN)