By Oluwatope Lawanson
Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Wednesday urged the citizens to rise up to the task of ensuring a safer environment for food processing and safety.
Sanwo-Olu made the call at the 1st Lagos State Food Safety Conference and Exhibition organised by the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency (LASCOPA).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme, held at the NECA Event House, Lagos, with the theme “Food Safety-What is the Right Consumers Need to Know, had in attendance stakeholders in the food manufacturing and vendors sectors.
The governor, represented by the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, said that the inauguration of LASCOPA would complement the efforts of other sister agencies in ensuring food safety in the state.
“I commend the Board and Management of LASCOPA for organising this event shortly after the inauguration of the agency.
“On that occasion, I recalled calling the attention on the need to increase the level of awareness of the citizens as their rights as consumers and the processes of enforcing their rights.
“This conference is, therefore, a welcome event in providing the platform for consumers to be enlightened on their rights against injustices of poor services meted on them by manufacturers and seek redress under the law,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu maintained that the impact and consequences of harmful foods in the society was enormous and could harm the economy of the state.
“Food safety calls for consciousness on the need to ensure that food items are kept safe at every stage.
“The advocacy along this line is not about what we consume alone, but more importantly, about the implications of these food items, many professionals often advise that the cost of unsafe food is high.
“We must all be mindful of food safety considering its inherent benefits and implications. According to United Nations, there is estimated 600 million cases of food borne diseases annually in the world.
“Also, an estimated 420,000 deaths as a result of food borne disease, while children under the ages of five years carry the 40 per cent of it with 125,000 deaths every year globally,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu pointed out that the reports given by the UN was scary enough and called for an urgent need to rise up to ensuring a safer environment for food processing and safety.
“There is undeniable fact that the statistics from UN pointed out that unsafe food is a threat to human health and the economy.
“Access to sufficient safe food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health, this conference will help to create a scene in Lagos State and ensure that manufacturers adhere strictly to best practices and processes.
“The role of LASCOPA in ensuring food safety and protecting the rights of the consumers against unwholesome items is crucial and complements the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture.
“The commitment of LASCOPA has the assurances that the incidences of food borne diseases will be drastically reduced if not totally eradicated,” he said.
The governor urged the participants at the conference to use the occasion as a platform to launch a new vista in ensuring food safety laws for the citizens.
“It is my hope that this gathering of food safety experts and relevant stakeholders will serve as a platform to identifying key elements and essentials for the formation of foods safety policies.
“They will also provide the blueprints for actualisation of this policy in the state. Let me also emphasize that ensuring food safety in our society should not be exclusive preserve of the government alone.
“It should be our collective responsibility. The greater responsibility lies with the consumers on the food they purchase and how they handle it.
“As we play our part through the efforts of LASCOPA, the citizens must also take personal responsibility for their health and their wellbeing.
“Consumers should be vigilant and provide prompt report to the agency where and when necessary,” Sanwo-Olu said. (NAN)