Food safety is one of the most substantial and challenging public health issues globally, particularly in developing countries. The WHO and FAO of the UN celebrate World Food Safety Day every year on June 7. This annual celebration aims to bring attention to, and inspire action to prevent, detect, and manage foodborne risks.
To commemorate World Food Safety Day 2022, USAID Advancing Nutrition collaborated with the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health to carry out a series of activities to sensitize markets on food safety and the need to adopt a food safety culture. The activities included—
- a training for food vendors on food safety and food handling practices
- distribution of training manuals for follow-on trainings
- sensitization activities in selected major food markets.
Eleven food vendors from six major markets (Kado fish market, Kuje market, Utako modern market, Nyanya market, Bwari market, and Kurudu market) were selected to attend the one day Master Trainers Training for Food Vendors. These food vendors, who are leaders in their communities, will champion a food safety culture in their respective markets.
In his opening remarks, National Coordinator for the Food Safety and Quality Program of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Atanda O. John, thanked USAID Advancing Nutrition for providing the needed support to hold the training. He emphasized the need for food handlers to adopt modern food safety practices and also called on the trainees to ensure that their learnings are cascaded down to food vendors in their local markets.
Lead trainer Dr. John Funsho Tehinse explained food safety’s significance in traditional market settings. Food safety is critical as these markets provide an important source of nutritious and culturally acceptable food and support the livelihoods of over 70 percent of Nigerians.
In his remarks, USAID Advancing Nutrition Food Systems Technical Advisor, Michael Daniel, highlighted the importance of regular hand washing for food handlers and reiterated that food safety, though a core mandate of food handlers, is everybody’s responsibility and its importance should not be overemphasized. Similarly, the Head of USAID EatSafe Country Programs, Dr. Augustine Okoruwa underscored the need to ensure that all vendors have food-handling skills and knowledge to comply with food safety management programs.
To put words to action, the new food safety champions took to the street on World Food Safety Day to educate food vendors and consumers at the Utako Ultra-modern Market on what they had learned at the training session. This was followed by a press conference to officially celebrate World Food Safety Day. The conference was chaired by the Minister of Health, Dr. Ehanire Osagie, who witnessed the official commissioning of the 11 trained market leaders as Food Safety Champions.
The food vendors expressed their appreciation for their newfound knowledge and pledged to train others in their markets. Uzor Lonjys, who spoke on behalf of the vendors, said, “We are grateful for the opportunity to learn. We will in turn train our members on food safety procedures in our various markets."
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