Bill to Establish National Food Safety & Quality Council Passes 2nd Reading in Senate

Nigerian agricultural produce is being rejected in international communities on safety, quality grounds – Senator Abubakar Kyari

BY OBUTE JAMES

A Bill for an Act to establish the National Food Safety and Quality Council and the National Food Safety Management Committee, on Wednesday passed Second Reading in the Nigerian Senate.

Senator Abubakar Kyari, representative of Borno North Senatorial District and Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, Abuja

The bill with a title: National Food Safety & Quality Council Bill 2021 (SB589) is sponsored by Senator Abubakar Shaib Kyari, Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, Abuja.

The bill seeks official control of food and feed safety, the obligation of food and feed business operators and define the functions and powers of Institutions of governments with the objective of ensuring that food and feed safety risks are effectively managed.

Senator Kyari who represents Borno North Senatorial District in the Senate noted that ineffective management of food has resulted to different kinds of sickness and diseases in the country.

He also said European countries and other countries of the world are loosing confidence on food and other products from Nigeria.

Kyari while leading a debate on Wednesday 2nd June, 2021 said:
“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, permit me to lead the debate on this very important Bill for the establishment of the National Food Safety Council and the National Food Safety Management.

“The Bill was read for the First Time in this Hallowed Chamber on Thursday, 3rd December, 2020.
Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, Food Safety is a scientific discipline describing the handling, preparation and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illnesses. It cuts across the entire food supply chain including farming, harvesting, processing, food service institutions, packaging, storage transportation, wholesale and retail food trading.

“It involves various sectors such as Health, Agriculture, Trade, Environment and Science/Technology to have a proper coordination and synergy system established.

“The existing Food Control and Safety System in Nigeria is “not fit for the purpose”. Apart from being obsolete and ineffective, the food legislations and institutional components require immediate reform to enable it meet national and international obligations.

“Nigeria currently operates a multi-agency food safety governance system, where food safety control is fragmented among the various MDAs and the 3 tiers of Government.

“The consequence of this arrangement is the attendant challenge of overlapping functions, multi-jurisdictions, lack of coordination and general ineffectiveness.”

According Kyari, “this scenario has led to Nigerian consumers being exposed to risk of health hazards arising from consumption of contaminated and unwholesome locally produced and imported foods;

“Loss of consumer confidence leading to rejections of Nigerian food produce in the international markets.

“Foodborne illnesses account for loss of billions of dollars in healthcare related and industry costs annually. According to the Nigerian Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (2014), there were 1, 049, 550 recorded cases of Diarrhoea alone in the country with 1, 164 deaths.

“Just last year over 100 people died from Lassa fever, with outbreaks reported in 20 of the 36 States of the Federation. Other cases of Food and Water borne illnesses such as typhoid fever, cholera, cancers etc. are becoming widespread and are clearly under-reported.

“Nigerian Agricultural produce is currently being rejected in the international communities, mostly on safety and quality grounds. More recently, and best known, is the suspension by EU of the importation of Nigerian dried beans into the European market.

“If this is left unchecked, it will have a significant effect on the economic diversification plan of this administration, which presently is also hinged on the export of agricultural produce to earn much needed foreign exchange.”

The function of the Council according to the bill include
Protecting the health of consumers from hazards which may be present in food and animal feed;

Establishing the general principles of official control of food and feed safety, the obligations of food and feed business operators; and

Defining of the functions and powers of institutions of Federal and State Governments with the objective of ensuring that food and feed safety risks are effectively managed, and that food is of the nature, substance and quality expected by the purchaser.

Senator Kyari said “In line with Order 77(3) of the Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended, a compendium of the financial implication of the establishment of the Council is hereby attached.”

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