President Dr. Isatou Touray said on Friday that with an estimated 60 million
cases of food borne illnesses annually, unsafe food is a threat to human health
and economies, disproportionally affecting vulnerable and marginalised people,
especially women and children.
She said it also affect populations affected by conflict and migrants, saying it is important that the world understands that food security cannot be achieved in the absence of food safety. “Yet, food safety is only brought to mind when we get sick from bad foods we consume.”
Presiding over the launch of Gambia’s Food Safety information system during the World Food Safety Day celebration at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi, VP Touray said it is fulfilling to see the issues of food safety being brought to the fore, saying the UN General Assembly has declared June 7 as World Food Safety Day, which would now be observed annually.
Dr. Touray said food security and food safety matters are and have always been priority areas for the government of The Gambia which led to the establishment of Food Safety and Quality Authority.
According to her, they now target to streamline the operations of the country’s food safety management along the food value chain security policies and initiatives towards solving the global challenges and priorities including food safety, quality and nutrition.
“This is especially key today when the “One Health” concept is being embraced as the future. The One Health approach aims to design and implement programmes, policies legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes,” she said.
Funded through the support of the European Union, the food safety information system will be used to capture food hazards, food borne illness, animal health and plant health incidence affecting food and security issues. “It will therefore require the collaboration of multiple sectors,” VP Touray emphasised.
She said from the foregoing narratives, it is evidence that The Gambia recognises that food safety is a fundamental public health concern, and achieving a safe food supply requires the One Health approach.
She therefore officially launched the food safety information system and urged that all stakeholders make good use of this benefit of the nation.