Mutorwa launches food safety policy

15 Jun 2015 17:10pm
WINDHOEK, 15 JUN (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) on Monday launched the Namibia Food Safety Policy that aims to guarantee safety of all food products traded nationally or exported to other countries.
The policy proposes the establishment of the National Food Safety Council as the main and official coordinator of food safety matters.
If and when the Act comes into force, it will replace a 96-year-old law dating back from 1919 and 1920 of the Public Health Proclamation of South Africa. This Act makes provision for the prevention and control of infectious diseases, venereal diseases and epidemics, and also regulates sanitation, food and public water supplies.
Speaking at the ceremony, MAWF Minister John Mutorwa emphasised that the Bill will at a later stage be introduced to Parliament by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Berhard Haufiku.
“The drafting of the policy has been preceded by exhaustive consultations from all five line ministries, including several stakeholders’ consultations from as far back as 2007.
“It also benefited from technical expert inputs from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. Subsequently, the final draft of the policy was approved by Cabinet on 15 July 2014,” he noted.
The line ministries are agriculture; health and social services; fisheries and marine resources; industrialisation, trade and small and medium enterprise (SME) development; as well as urban and rural development.
Stakeholders included farmers, traders, fishers, food business operators and traders.
In an official document on the policy, Acting Permanent Secretary in the MAWF, Abraham Nehemia said: “Namibia adopts a ‘farm-to-fork’ principle in managing food safety throughout the value chain”.
“Even though effective official control systems are critical to the establishment of a national food safety system, food safety happens at producer, processor, trader, handler and consumer levels. In this regard, this policy lays special emphasis on the role of the private sector in maintaining verifiable traceability systems,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking to this news agency on the sidelines of the policy’s launch, Executive Director of the Namibia Consumer Trust (NCT), Michael Gaweseb, called on the public to study the policy and to be on the lookout for any loopholes in the document as to advise Government accordingly.
“The biggest challenge now is the coordination among the various ministries. If that is not happening, then we might not benefit from the Act as consumers,” he warned.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says millions of people fall ill every year and many die as a result of eating unsafe food. Diarrhoeal diseases alone kill an estimated 1.5 million children annually, and most of these illnesses are attributed to contaminated food or drinking water.
At the same occasion, Mutorwa also handed over eight trucks valued at about N.dollars 14 million to the Agro Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA).