The event took place at the National Nutrition Agency conference hall on Bertil Harding Highway in Kanifing, on 19 September 2015.
Ousman Sillah, a facilitator to the engagement, said the forum was held to sensitise media practitioners about the Food Safety and Quality Authority Act (FSQA) for them to report accurately food safety issues.
The convergence provided a platform for media practitioners and food safety experts to interact and come up with tangible recommendations in building the capacities of the local populace.
“You ought to know as media professionals on how to report on food safety and quality. Food safety is everyone’s business because we are all consumers and we will need quality food to consume,” Mr Sillah noted.
FSQA Director General Zainab Jallow, in her remarks, said: “We are training media professionals and journalists to understand the nature of our institution as well as to help in creating awareness to the general public on food standards and quality.”
“The FSQA is the sole National Competent Authority with powers of delegation mandated to officially control the safety and quality of food and animal feed whether locally produced, imported or destined for export.
“The work of the Authority is expected to contribute to consumer health and safety, the facilitation of trade and control of fraudulent and deceptive food marketing, labelling and advertising practices.”
Madam Jallow said the Authority is responsible for the overall official control of food safety and quality, ensuring that food and feed operators comply with legal requirements, or where appropriate with approved codes of good practice carrying out inspection, sampling and certification of food and feed for import and export when so required.
Madam Jallow said that before the establishment of the Authority in 2011, inspections on beverages, food and even animal feeds were being done by different institutions, such responsibilities are under the FSQA.
She said that even though such functions are legally under their purview as mandated by government and the law they still delegate responsibilities to other institutions that are competent to handle such matters.
The Gambia is the first country in the region to establish a food safety quality authority, she added, saying they would work hard to carry out their mandate as expected of them.
Joseph Ndeen, Food Safety expert, said the media have a great role to play in ensuring that the general public consumes safe and pure food.
“The media is very important in helping to disseminate information for the public, who are the consumers, to know and understand about food safety and quality,” he remarked.
Marry Johnson, legal experts of FSQA, in her presentation, said the authority is backed by the FSQA Act 2011, with powers to delegate authority to other institutions carry out food inspections through the Ministry of Health.