Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, has tasked Nigerians to improve on their eating habit, through the consumption of safe and wholesome foods, which will enhance their immunity by improving the body’s natural defenses in fighting diseases.
She further stated that Nigerians do not need medicines if they eat right, stressing that eating right means making healthy food choices from safe, wholesome, and nutritious foods.
Recall Pharmanewsonline published a story recently titled “Food Vendors are Potential Carriers of Infectious Diseases, Say Experts” where experts charged NAFDAC to upscale its regulatory of food handlers, to prevent uncertified food outlets from operating in the country.
In response to the call, Prof. Adeyeye made the admonition in Abuja on Tuesday at the NAFDAC celebration of the 4th World Food Safety Day 2022 with the theme ‘Safer Food, Better Health’, where she opined that where food is unsafe, our nutritional goals cannot be achieved.
In a statement signed by Sayo Akintola, resident media consultant, NAFDAC, Prof. Adeyeye was quoted as saying that safe food is an essential component of sustainable development and contributes towards improvement of public health, poverty reduction, and increased food security. She noted that the theme for this year is very apt, as the world gradually returns to normalcy with the COVID-19 pandemic having lost its firm grip on the world.
Adeyeye pointed out that the theme also aligns with the World Health Assembly 75 theme, which is Health for Peace and Peace for Health, adding that safer food indeed takes the front and centre position for better health and relative personal and world peace. ‘’You all know my popular saying about not needing medicine if one eats right. Eating right means making healthy food choices from safe, wholesome, and nutritious foods’’, she said.
She stressed that the occasion of World Food Safety Day is an added opportunity for us to create and generate awareness around food safety and situate it as a very significant issue of public health concern, especially in the light of safe, wholesome food being important for boosting immunity and improving the body’s natural defenses in fighting diseases.
‘’The theme ‘Safer Food, Better Health’ is very relevant to us here in Nigeria as a large proportion of the foods we consume are produced by micro- and small-scale producers; these include our smallholder farmers, street food vendors, the traditional, open food markets’’. She noted that these are important players whose activities fall within the informal sector, and they constitute a significant part of our national food supply.
Prof Mojisola Adeyeye however, noted with dismay that their activities are of concern regarding safe food practices or lack of it. She added that these foods are frequently exposed to less hygienic and sanitary conditions, resulting in contamination and leading to incidences and outbreaks of foodborne diseases, situations that are steadily becoming significant food safety concerns.
The NAFDAC boss disclosed that unsafe foods are the cause of many diseases and contribute to other poor health conditions, such as impaired growth and development.‘’We know that food safety is a shared responsibility, and everyone has a role to play in ensuring we have safer food for better health: from growers to processors, to transporters, sellers, buyers, and those who prepare or serve food.
Policy makers, educational institutions and workplaces, as well as consumers are not left out; food safety is the responsibility of all. We must all work together to help achieve safer food for better health’’.
She said her ‘Call to Action’ on this occasion of World Food Safety Day goes out to four groups of stakeholders, namely policy makers and food regulators, food businesses, educational institutions and workplaces as well as the consumers.
She urged policy makers and food regulators to design all public procurement of food, such as food aid, school feeding and other publicly owned food outlets, so that consumers can access safe and healthy foods. She added that they should support policy measures and legal frameworks to strengthen the national food safety system and ensure it complies with food safety standards and regulations.
She however, urged them to encourage and engage in multisectoral collaboration at the local, national, regional, and global levels. Prof Adeyeye said food businesses should also engage employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders to grow and develop a food safety culture; and comply with international and national food standards.
Furthermore, Prof Adeyeye said educational institutions and workplaces should promote safe food handling as well as engage with families and involve them in food safety activities. Above all, Prof Adeyeye admonished consumers to practice safe food handling at home and follow the WHO’s Five Keys to Safer Food: keep clean, separate raw and cooked, cook thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures and use safe water and raw materials.