Abuja, 29 July, 2021 – To build an effective food safety system for Nigerians, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) launched a Unified Food Safety Training Manuals for capacity building of food vendors, food handlers, food manufacturers and plethora of personnel in the entire food supply chain in the country. The manual is in line with one of the objective (3.1) of the National Policy for Food System and Implementation Strategy (NPFSIS).
The development of the manual became necessary to address the gaps needed to strengthen Food Safety System at the Federal, State and LGAs levels to develop a safe and reliable food supply chain from Farm-to-Table in ways that prevent food-borne illness.
Speaking at the launch in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said that “food safety and hygiene is critical for achieving primary health care as it constitutes one of the major pillars of disease prevention and health promotion.”
The Minister further said that it was noteworthy that food safety training manual (first of its kind) was developed by the stakeholders in Nigeria and it will be of great value in training farmers, food processors, marketers, and vendors on the need to ensure that food sold, marketed, and consumed is wholesome and meets national and international standards.
Food contamination is a severe public health problem around the world, resulting in food-borne diseases that affect human beings every year. It is caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, helminths, chemical contaminants and physiological factors. Microorganisms that grow in foods may cause changes in appearance, flavor, odor, and other features of the foods.
Unsafe food containing pathogenic bacteria, viruses, helminths or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers. Foodborne diseases are caused by contamination of food and occur at any stage of the food production, delivery and consumption chain. They can result from several forms of environmental contamination including pollution in water, soil or air, as well as unsafe food storage and processing.
“The launching of the manuals is quite timely, given that the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in food production and control systems highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic”, stated Dr. Edwin Isotu Edeh, National Consultant, Public Health and Environment who spoke on behalf of WHO Nigeria Country Representative.
According to him, “taking into account the global burden of foodborne diseases, which affect individuals of all ages, in particular children under five years and persons living in developing nations, it becomes imperative to equip food handlers and service providers along the food supply chain with essential food safety knowledge and skills to promote food hygiene and prevent foods related hazards at critical control points”.
Recognizing that women are very important players in the promotion of food safety and home hygiene, in 2019 WHO trained 345 women leaders from Edo and Ondo States on food hygiene and domestic sanitation towards the prevention of Lassa fever.
WHO is also working with the Federal and State Ministries of Health and other regulatory agencies to advocate for food safety as an important component of health security and for integrating food safety into national policies and programs in line with the International Health Regulations. WHO is also committed to support Nigeria towards ensuring that the manuals are disseminated to across the nations and food handlers trained at levels.
According to WHO, an estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420 000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years (DALYs) and children under five years of age bear 40% of the foodborne disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year.
Dr Mary Dewan; Email: dewanm [at] who.int; Tel: +234 903 590 0750
Dr Edwin Isotu Edeh; Email: edehe [at] who.int; Tel: +234 806 872 7856