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Veep opens conference on food safety

By GNA

Vice President John Dramani Mahama on Tuesday underscored effective collaboration among nations and the strengthening of food safety control systems to ensure safety and quality of foods on the international food market.

He said, the emerging food safety concerns called for effective national food safety control systems that would protect the health and safety of consumers.

Opening the 18th Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) joint Committee for Africa session in Accra, Vice President Mahama said the realisation of safe and quality food could not be achieved by any one country acting by itself.

He observed that unilateral efforts by some countries through the imposition of export restrictions to contain the negative effects of the hazards posed by unsafe food, might not be sustainable and would actually contribute to further aggravate the food security situation.

The five-day meeting would discuss various issues on food safety and nutrition affecting parts of the world, with particular reference to Africa.

It would also look at effective participation of the African Members in the activities of the Rome-based Codex Alimentarius Commission, for which Ghana currently served as co-ordinator for the Africa Region.

Vice President Mahama said Government expected efficiency in agricultural performance by using a value-chain approach to ensure that Ghana's agricultural policies led to the production, processing, marketing and distribution of food using the most efficient and cost effective methods.

Food safety, he said, was a fundamental public health concern, and the challenges of food safety, particularly to developing countries, resulted from food-borne hazards, which further posed risks to health and obstacles to international trade in food.

The Vice President called for the strengthening of Food Law and Regulations, Food Control Management, Inspection Services, Laboratory and Information Services, which were at different stages of development in different countries.

He urged member countries to resource their expert groups and strategically position themselves for challenges ahead.

"The time has come now, more than ever before, for the technical and scientific expertise in the region to be fully harnessed and harmonised to respond adequately to the numerous challenges facing the region in the area of food safety," Vice President Mahama said.

He said Government recognised the role of the Codex Commission in protecting consumer health and facilitating international trade and commended the FAO, WHO and the Codex Commission for their continued commitment to their objective of ensuring better and safer food for all.

Vice President Mahama called on African Governments and Donor Agencies to show renewed commitment by providing support for Codex activities.

"We need to translate this political will into urgent and real actions to allow the region to make the much needed impact. I am hopeful that the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee will rise to the challenge," he said.

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