by Badejo oluwaseun samuel
Lagos State Government has restated its commitment toward food safety.
It urged food manufacturers and handlers to devote significant resources to ensure the production of safe food products.
The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, who spoke at a food sensitisation meeting organised by the Lagos State Directorate of Environmental Health Services for stakeholders in the food sector, held at Folarin Coker Staff Clinic auditorium, Alausa, Lagos, said food safety was of crucial importance to everyone, including manufacturers of processed products, hotels, eateries, supermarkets, aerated water factories, bakeries, butcheries or slaughter houses among others. He said food is one of the most traded goods in the world, as such, an average Nigerian patronises food vendors at least two to three times daily. Ogboye warned that unsafe product could result in legal actions by consumers and/or unwanted publicity that adversely affected a broad range of the company’s products and reputations.
Ogboye, represented by Dr. Tolu Ajomale, said: “Producing and selling an unsafe product may also result in regulatory actions as well as the closure of the business. Hence, to avoid such possibilities and to fulfil commitment to public welfare, food manufacturers and handlers are expected to devote significant resources to ensuring the production of safe food products at all levels.”
He noted that achieving Greater Lagos 2020 was premised on the role of food establishments that had been identified as germane to public health and state image, adding that a tool, “Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)”, has been adopted by the government to aid production of safe food/water/beverages through the Food Safety Management System,
He said the environmental health enforcement officers are the food regulators charged with ensuring food safety to protect the health and well-being of the unsuspecting public. The Director, Environmental Health Services, Dr. Theophilus Ajayi, said that in recent times, statistics gathered from routine inspections had shown a level of decline in compliance to food safety, which was of great concern to the state, adding that the level of acceptance of adopted Food Safety Management System (HACCP) by the regulated food premises had been poor in correlation with past projections.
He informed stakeholders of the directorate’s responsibility of inspecting their locations twice annually without notice of inspection and that a list of Ministry of Health’s requirements would be sent to regulate food premises, pre-informing them for adequate preparation.
Ajayi said interactions with the stakeholders in the course of inspection would either be corrective or punitive, depending on the co-operation and strict compliance with HACCP guidelines of the stakeholders. He described HACCP as an internationally recognised method of identifying and managing food safety related risk and a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical and physical hazards in production processes, through identifying where hazards might occur, which could cause the finished product to be unsafe, “design measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level by putting in place strict monitoring and controlling each process.”