Zim moves to improve food safety

ZIMBABWE is set to introduce a number of measures aimed at improving food safety in the face of increasing sub-standard food in the country.

It is against this background that Zimbabwe with technical support from Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao) will — over the next few months — assess its national food control systems as part of the pilot testing of a new draft Fao/World Health Organisation (WHO) national food control assessment tool.

Zimbabwe is among the first five pilot countries used to test and refine the tool. The tool, developed by Fao and WHO, is part of the organisations’ efforts to protect consumers through the use of national food control systems. 

The tool will ensure locally produced and imported foods are monitored for safety and quality standards. This comes as experts say food control systems play a pivotal role in public health.

An effective national food control system is essential to protect consumers’ health and to ensure fair trade practices. Hazards in the food supply chain can have serious public health and economic impacts.

As such, the launch of the food safety tool in Zimbabwe demonstrates Fao’s continued commitment to providing assistance and technical expertise in the area of food control and safety in the country.

Permanent-secretary in the ministry of Health, Gerald Gwinji, said it was important for government and partner agencies to ensure that food which comes into the country as well as that which is grown locally is safe for human consumption.

He expressed his confidence in the tool and said that the initiative will strengthen the national food control system.

“..Zimbabwe fully appreciates Fao’s efforts to strengthen and ensure efficient food safety in the country,” he said during the launch. The tool, which applies to food of both plant and animal origin, is based on CODEX principles and guidelines for national control systems, as well as other relevant guidelines to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in trade.

The tool further covers controls by competent authorities on food safety attributes of food and also essential quality attributes as defined in the food law.

“With the contribution of Zimbabwe, we hope to have a world class instrument which will be used not only by Zimbabwe but also by other countries of the global community to assess national food control systems, identify gaps and chart a way forward,” Fao sub-regional coordinator for southern Africa and Zimbabwe representative David Phiri said.

Other countries, which are already testing the Fao/WHO food control assessment tool, are Sierra Leone, Zambia, Gambia, and Afghanistan.

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