Deputies at the National Assembly Wednesday passed a new bill entitled the “Food Safety and Quality Bill 2011”, which seeks to establish a food safety and quality regime by instituting structures and control mechanisms to ensure the safety and quality of food and feed at the national level.
Under the new Act, food or feed business operators shall at all stages of production, processing and distribution within the business under their control ensure that foods or feeds to be placed on the market satisfy the requirements of the Act, and regulations made under it.
A person shall not place unsafe food on the market and food shall be deemed to be unsafe if it is injurious to health or unfit for human consumption, the Act stipulates.
In moving the motion before deputies, the Vice President and minister for Women Affairs, Isatou Njie-Saidy, said the well-being of our citizenry is at stake.
“Giving our continuous drive to place health care on top of our development agenda, we call on all and sundry to join the bandwagon in the implementation of this bill,” she said, adding that the law is necessary, but may not be sufficient in changing the mindsets of the people in the execution of the food safety and quality bill.
She told deputies that the bill continues to give cognizance to the fact that food safety and quality is a crosscutting and overarching issue.
She noted that the bill and the establishment of the Gambia Food Safety and Quality Authority is consistent with the ECOWAS regulation on the harmonization of the structural framework and operational rules pertaining to the health and safety plants, animals and foods in the ECOWAS region.
According to her, the Food Safety and Quality Bill does not stop at merely replacing an old Act, but also has checks and mechanisms that have a scope to accommodate new and emerging challenges, for now and in the future.
She added that the Gambia Food Safety and Quality Authority being established by this bill will be the sole national competent Authority having unitary responsibility for food safety and quality.
“In order to achieve the general objectives of a high level of protection of human health and life, measures applied under this Act shall be based on risk assessment, except where this is not appropriate to the circumstances or the nature of the measure.”