RSG Inaugurates Task Force On Food Safety

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

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

The Commissioner for Agriculture inaugurated the task force on behalf of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, at the ceremony in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

Engr. Kii said the Ministry of Agriculture, working together with committee members of the task force, can 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, which includes but not limited to 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.

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It is mandated to assign veterinarians to all abattoirs/slaughter houses who shall conduct ante-mortem and post-mortem inspections.

In addition, the task force will ensure that processed meat (hides and skin, offal’s, bones, etc), do 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.

Engr. 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.

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

Engr. 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,” Engr Kii said.

Those inaugurated include the Hon 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.

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The rest 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.