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 Rivers inaugurates task force on food safety

Rivers inaugurates task force on food safety

The Rivers State Government has inaugurated a Task Force on Food Safety to safeguard the public from potential health risks associated with consuming  contaminated food 

Speaking during the inauguration, which took place at the Ministry of Agriculture, Commissioner for Agriculture,  Victor Kii, said the essence of the task force was to develop and implement strategies that would ensure the highest standard of food safety across the state through collaboration with stakeholders, farmers, producers, distributors, retailers, and consumers. 

The Commissioner in a statement on Tuesday evening by the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor, Nelson Chukwudi, inaugurated the task force on behalf of the Executive Governor of the state, Sir Siminalayi Fubara,  in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

 Kii said the Ministry of Agriculture, working together with committee members of the task force, could identify potential risks, address any existing gaps in the system, and develop effective measures to prevent food borne illnesses. 

He outlined the terms of reference for the task force as enhancing public awareness and education on food safety best practices, collecting all relevant data on livestock trade, animal health, slaughtering conditions, storage and transport in order to develop a database of all practitioners in the sector.

The task force was also  mandated to assign veterinarians to all abattoirs and slaughter houses to conduct ante and post-mortem inspections.

The task force was to ensure that processed meat (hides and skin, offal’s, bones and others did not  enter the sales-chain from any extraneous source while also monitoring the markets and frozen food companies of all livestocks and all agro-produce.

Kii also said the ministry would strengthen its inspection and regulatory mechanisms to ensure compliance with food safety standards at every stage of the food supply chain. 

He said that membership of the task force was drawn from the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Environment and Justice as well as security agencies for the success of the task force.

He thanked Fubara for his visionary leadership and for being proactive in establishing the Rivers State Task Force on Food Safety. 

 Kii also said the fact that there was food shortage in the country was not the reason for unwholesome practices in ignoring food safety measures. 

“There is no better time to have inaugurated this task force than now,”  Kii said.

Those inaugurated were Commissioner for Agriculture as chairman; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture as Secretary; while Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health; and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, are to serve as members.

Other members are  Head, Livestock/Veterinary Services Department, Ministry of Agriculture; Head, Forestry Department, Ministry of Agriculture; Head, Department, Ministry of Agriculture; Head, Fisheries Department, Ministry of Agriculture; Representative of The Nigeria Police Force; Representative of Department of State Security Service (DSS); Representative of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC); and Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice or Representative.

Others are representatives of National Butchers Association; Poultry Association of Nigeria;  Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association; Fish Farmers Association; Cattle Breeders Association; and Chairman or Representative of Markets Association in the State. (The Nation)

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