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Demystifying roles of agencies in enhancing food security and safety

By Mercy Limbua

As food trade expands across the world, food safety has become a shared concern between the developed and developing countries. Enhancing food safety, is vital to improving the health and nutrition of consumers, an SDG 2 goal. Improving food availability does not only benefit those at nutritional risk without correspondence to improvements in the nutritional quality and safety of food as there is reduced food-borne illness and disease.

To address food safety, developing countries should evaluate investments in the overall scope of public health, nutrition and food systems policies.

Food control is the compulsory regulatory activity of enforcing rules and regulations to provide consumer protection and ensure foods are safe during production, handling, storage, processing, distribution and fit for human consumption.

Food safety issues

Every consumer is always on the lookout when purchasing food. The food safety concerns play a vital role in the consumer health since nobody would wish to consume unsafe/unhygienic food.

Currently, global food production has been consolidated with troubling results. This is due to the takeover of the food industry by dominant multinational organisations resulting to the shift in focus of food production. Increase in food industry competition has seen diversion in the industry to profitability over quality.

Some of the most important food safety issues of concern include food borne illnesses, food contaminants, antibiotic resistance, pesticide residues and environmental effects.

Role of different bodies 

The task of food control is shared among different agencies, with each agency having different roles.

However, the key assignment to all the agencies is to enforce the food law(s) thus protecting the consumers against unsafe, impure and fraudulently presented food.

Government

The government should ensure adequate food control legislation is in place to enable control of all food risk factors as well as consumer protection, both at the national and international level. The laws in place should meet requirements of current food risk needs and not be detailed to be incomprehensible; or scattered among rules and other policy documents so that there be transparency and easy understanding of rules.

In addition, the government is responsible for adequate funding of the pre-market approval process and monitoring operations that are designed to make sure the food legislate needs are met.

Food Producers

With the continual increase in the world’s population and urbanisation, food chains and webs have become increasingly complex. Thus, assuring food safety and quality calls for adequate knowledge and ability by all food business players to meet and exceed the basic food safety laws. However, this requires the creation and implementation of food quality systems that ensure basic composition, nutritive value and safety of food.

Every food producer is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring safe end products at the table of the consumer. Right from ingredients used, how produced is handled, product packaging, distribution and marketing should be the core main concern of any food producer.

Marketers / Distributors

How a produce is handled for marketing and distribution really determines its safety. How the produce is packed and transported also matters. How and where the food is sold has a positive or negative effect to its safety. Food distributors and marketers need to ensure that how they present a produce to the consumers does not compromise the integrity of the produce. Food products are sensitive and delicate and if poorly handled at the market and distribution stage the effects would be immense.  

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