THE 37TH Annual Conference and General Meeting of NIFST took place in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory from 22nd -26th October, 2013. The Conference with the theme “FOOD SAFETY: THE CRITICAL PATHWAY TO SUSTAINABLE GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS AND PUBLIC HEALTH” was attended by over one thousand participants from Government, Acadamia/Research, Private sector /Industry/Trade, Press and the general public across the Nation and beyond. After exhaustive deliberations on the issues related to the theme, participants agreed on the following observations and recommendations:
- The Food supply chain from farm-to-table in Nigeria is undergoing considerable positive transformation but at a very slow pace.
- About 70% of our population are engaged as rural small scale farmers, recent trends however indicate that Nigeria is experiencing an increase in the establishment of cottage and small scale food enterprises.
- Food vendors, backyard farm practices and similar food trade, provides employment opportunities for urban and pre-urban unemployed.
- However, most of those involved in these emerging businesses are ignorant of the principles and importance of globally accepted food safety practices, thus creating risk concerns for local and international consumers.
- Food Safety management is playing an increasingly dominant role in governance globally in view of its impact on public health, Agriculture, Trade and Investment, Poverty, Hunger and Tourism.
- No country can therefore afford to ignore the current and emerging trends in food safety if it is to remain competitive among the committee of Nations.
- It is noteworthy that the Federal Government is proposing a National Policy on Food Safety which is intended to provide the tools needed to protect the public while meeting International expectations.
- The recently established Department of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in NAFDAC to give food safety issues the needed Government commitment in the transformation Agenda is commendable.
- Nigeria currently operates a multiple agency Food Safety control system where the enactment and enforcement of relevant food Safety Laws and Regulation between various agencies are not only fragmented but cumbersome, uncoordinated and ineffective.
- Therefore there is the need for the development of a unified food safety policy and implementation strategy to realign our National Food Safety practices to be in line with global trends and best practices. Nigeria has been unable to meet the MDGs 4 and 5 goals partly due to health issues arising from consumption of unsafe foods and causing high infant, child and maternal mortality.
A. As a matter of urgency, the Nigerian Government should establish a unified policy and legislation on food Safety and provide an adequate framework for the monitoring and enforcement of Food Safety Laws (issues, systems and regulations)
B. Establish food fortification program and legislation to strengthen food fortification training program, monitoring and evaluation at all levels. Government and the private sector should engage qualified Food Science and Technology professionals to monitor and enforce Food safety laws and issues.
C. The president and commander in chief of the Nigerian armed forces, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is requested to kindly give accent to the establishment of the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology bill so as to ensure that properly trained and registered professionals are engaged in the critical control areas of food safety, monitoring and enforcement.
The relevant government agencies should be supported to promote the production of food products that meet the required quality standards for international trade.
Prof. Lateef O. Sanni (FNIFST) …………………………………………Mr Adedola Adeboye
National President ………………………………………………………………………………. National Secretary