By Buba Gagigo
Director of Regulatory Affairs, Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSAQ), confirmed that FSAQ has no laboratory to detect presence of chemicals in food products.
Speaking to Kerr fatou on Thursday, Mary Johnson said FSAQ only collects and sends samples abroad for verification.
“The investigation is really going fast because (with) food safety issues, you do not waste time. So the biggest issue is the issue of a laboratory. Nonetheless, we don’t have laps in Gambia that can test it. So what we’re doing is we want to send the samples outside of the Gambia. Either we send it to Dakar or we send it to Germany. But regardless of the journey when we send the sample through DHL we can get the results within the shortest period of time. It’s sad that we don’t have a lab here, if we had it, it would have been more effective,” she said.
Following an allegation last week that certain fish-smokers in the Gambia use the sniper (insecticide chemical) on smoked-fish for preservation, she explains the steps her institution has taken since the news broke.
“Food safety is everybody’s business. With respect to the sniper issue, Food safety doesn’t rely on information received. Because most of the people, most of the government officials will look at it and give a little importance to it and say these are rumours. We can say these are rumours unless we ascertain that these are facts. Those rumours have to be taken on board and see how you address them.
“These were rumours going on social media and food safety were very responsive to that. They said the women used sniper on the smoked-fish for preservation. We cannot ascertain for now whether they are using sniper or not. We thought it was important to bring everyone on board. There is an investigation team that has been setup comprising all these stakeholders. And we strategized- some are in the market, at the landing side and the smoke fishing areas. The teams are there and they are taking samples and we intend to test the smoked-fish to see whether they have a sniper that is claimed to be used,” she said.
The Food Safety and Quality Authority of The Gambia (FSQA) is established by an Act of Parliament (The Food Safety and Quality Act, 2011), but started operations in 2013. It is the sole National Competent Authority with powers of delegation mandated to officially control the safety and quality of food and animal feed locally produced, imported or destined for export.