The issue of food safety is a subject that has continually been thrashed but not duly addressed by relevant laws and agencies in Nigeria, and therefore many consumers are daily exposed to the risk of impaired health from the various foods that end on our tables.
But, Zainab Akanji, a certified and pioneer trainer in food safety, who heads the First HACCP System Limited, an organisation that trains staff of companies, food outlets and food security stakeholders on food safety, believes that the objectives of food safety can be achieved through an internationally-recognised food safety management system called the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP).
As an objective of food safety, she says that HACCP is a system where “food safety is managed by identifying significant and potential hazard (biological, physical and chemical) at every step (‘farm to fork’) of food preparation/processes/manufacturing. Afterwards, it assesses which of the hazards will pose a health risk to the consumer and then puts in place control measures that are critical to the safety of the food and consumer. This is a proven system that helps food businesses operator ensure proper food safety measures are in place. In other words, HACCP is designed to help food organisations minimise health risks (likelihood of harm) from food hazards.”
Asked what food safety entails, she says: “Food safety is all about protecting consumer health.”
The UK-trained food safety specialist says she has been into the campaign for eight years, adding that she is one of the best trainers and consultants in the field.
She claims that she has had more great feed backs than bad ones from trainings that she has given to staff of companies, food outlets and food security stakeholders.
Though the federal ministry of health has tried to put in place a food safety policy, Akanji claims there is still so much to be done on the instrument, as there are comments from stakeholders being awaited before the policy can be ratified.
As a trainer, she had to develop a food safety management system pack, first of its kind in the country, “to help food handlers follow rules and help organisations/employers, as well as supervisors, to train their staff to produce safe food.”
According to her, the pack focuses on the ‘four Cs’, which are the control measures that guarantee food safety; Cleaning, Cross-contamination, Chilling and Cooking.
Expatiating on the use of the pack, the trainer declares, “This training pack also stresses the importance of training and supervising of food handlers on how to implement the ‘four Cs.”