Since joining the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in 1971, Liberia has for the first time launched a National Codex Committee, a body primarily responsible to ensure the development of national policies on food standards, safety, and international food trade issues.
The CAC is an inter-governmental body with over 180 members within the framework of the Joint Food Standards Program established by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WHO with the purpose of protecting the health of consumers and ensuring fair practices in the food trade.
The setup of the committee came two months after the National Standards Act and Food Law were validated and submitted to the relevant government agency for passage to establish a functional and effective national food safety regime in Liberia.
Dr. Cuallau Jabbeh Howe, the Director of Country Health Services who proxied for the Minister of Health, Dr. Bernice Dahn described the launching of the NCC has a milestone for Liberia and pledged her institution’s commitment to lobby with the national legislature for the smooth passage of the proposed food law.
She noted it is about time that Liberia has effective food safety legislation in order to protect the health of the citizens.
“Liberia needs a food safety and standard act law to set up an effective standards authority to conduct appropriate tests to ensure companies’ compliance with standard specifications designated for the production of goods and services. And this came be achieve through the NCC who we will work with to make sure that food safety and the standard act are pass.
Dr. Howe said that if the current trend of not having food safety law continues, the Ministry of Health will share most of the burden due to increase in foodborne disease; therefore, it about time that stakeholders work with NCC to make sure that the law is pass.
The Acting Deputy General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Dr. Mosoka Fallah, said that because that Liberia is part of the global community and more prompt to diseases there is a need that the country established a surveillance system that targets food.
“Our institution is committed to ensuring that we develop an effective system to diagnose cases of food related outbreak and mitigate the risks that are associated with foodborne disease.
“This launching is a great opportunity for the country because it speaks directly to our health. Therefore, NPHIL is making tremendous progress with respect to start implementing part of the draft food safety law,” Dr. Mosoka Fallah.
Dr. Fallah added that the coming of the necessary at this time to make sure that the draft food law and the national standard act are pass in order establish a food inspection service along with adequate laboratories, and promote food safety research.
For her part, the Deputy Chief of Party for programs at the Liberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) Watchen Bruce stated that LADA remains committed to working with relevant stakeholders to have the national standards act and food law passed into law.
Mrs. Bruce said, “LADA has a budget to support the process but such funds cannot be released unless the Government and other actors can play their part by passing into law the standards act and food law.
“We want members of the national legislature to speedily pass the draft food law and the national standard act, which will create more access to the market for smallholder farmers.
Meanwhile, LADA Deputy Chief of Party said her organization is currently working in four counties along five value chains comprising cassava, rice, vegetable, cocoa, and aquaculture.
She added LADA’s goal is to increase agricultural incomes of small holder farmers through private sector investment.
Mrs. Bruce concluded the LADA is currently working with the National Standards Laboratory to bring the Lab to internationally acceptable standards.