Sarjo Camara Singateh
The orientation of a 24 member stakeholders consultative forum in the area of food and feed by the Food Safety and Quality Authority proceeded on Thursday, 7th August 2014 at the NaNA conference hall.
Stakeholders raised the concerns and challenges they are facing in their areas of operation, the lack of perfect or arranged market design and layout in terms of selling goods and products, as well as the collection time of the market garbage, rubbish dumps among others.
They also expressed concern over the way some food products are being transported by vehicles that put everything at random without sorting the consumable items from the inconsumable ones, e.g.transporting biscuits with batteries or with other toxics.
The participants raised concern regarding the recent practices at the markets where some vendors or traders would spread rags and sell foodstuff on the ground.
The issue of handling bread generated a heated debate which noted that some of the bakeries are not up to standard and the transportation mode of the bread is not protective because they are not covered and the persons that carry them do not put on any protective gears.
The acting Director General of FSQA, Ms. Zainab Jallow, updated the stakeholders on the Authority’s 2014 Inspection Plan, Code of Conduct of Inspectors, Guidelines for the Inspectors, Findings from Market Surveillance and Food Safety Risk Concerns, the forum’s role in Risk Communication and expectations by the Authority.
The meeting also agreed to later look at the capacity building of the forum, SOP of the forum and code of conduct of the members.
“We are updating on the activities that had taken place and also to know their role as ascribed by the Act. The forum is a very important structure of the board, they are our collaborators, they work with their groups and they later feed us with developments and we act accordingly, said the FSQA acting DG”.
She said the issue of waste collection has been raised by their inspectors and that they will forward the issues to their other partners for consideration.
She said the challenges they raised are valid and they will make follow ups. “This is the beauty about the stakeholders’ consultative forum and the Authority,” she said.
Madam Jallow said they know their people and they know how they are doing things in a good way or on the reverse. She said they will take it from there and engage the authorities like in the issue of market they will engage the councils and municipality.
On the issue of disorganised design and layout at the markets which are challenges faced by the forum members, the Acting Director General said selling baobab and charcoal close together is a health hazard.
“These are the people we appreciate very well because they have the experience, and they work hand in glove with their colleagues. We need them for sensitization if they want to do it anyhow, like if they want to go on any channel of communication we would be willing to support,” she said.
She concluded that this meeting would give the opportunity to the Food Safety and Quality Authority the zeal to make follow up inspections on food and feeds be it through distribution, marketing and handling of consumable products for the protection of consumers. She added that it will also increase the trust between the consumers and the Authority to protect them from consuming unhealthy food and feeds.