By Landing Ceesay
The Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA) received laboratory equipment for food testing from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The donation on Wednesday is part of the EU’s co-funded project “Improving Food Security and Nutrition in The Gambia through Food Fortification.”
The equipment would enable the FSQA to improve the legislative and regulatory environment for food fortification and contribute to assuring an increased availability of fortified foods in compliance with the food fortification regulations through monitoring, sampling and testing.
Speaking at the handing-over ceremony, Fatou Samba, Vice Chairperson of FSQA said the equipment would help provide scientific answers to the foods in the country.
Ms. Samba said Laboratory testing of food products continues to be a challenge and the Gambia continues to be faced with the lack of testing facilities for their food products destined for exports and domestic market.
She said the Food Safety and Quality Authority’s approach to food safety is anchored on Science and Scientific-based decision-making.
“This specific Laboratory equipment provided by the ‘Improving Food Security and Nutrition in The Gambia through Food Fortification’ project are the right tools to support the processes and activities of the food safety approach described above. The data obtained from continuous monitoring and testing of foods will provide the necessary scientific information to understand the trends and problems of food safety in the country on both the imported and exported foods, and foods produced and placed in our markets,” she said.
Moshibudi Rampedi, FAO Representative to the Gambia said the equipment are expected to enable FSQA to enforce the food fortification regulations, which mandate the fortification of wheat flour with iron and folic acid, edible fats and oils with Vitamin A and salt with iodine.
Ms. Rampedi said the major deficiencies of concern in The Gambia are iron deficiency, Vitamin A deficiency, and Iodine deficiency.
“According to the Gambia Micronutrient Survey of 2019, the overall prevalence of Iron deficiency and Iron deficiency anaemia were 59.0% and 38.2%. Vitamin A deficiency affects 18% of children 6-59 months of age, while 44% of women are anaemic. Only 10.8% of households assessed are using adequately iodised salt, and this is a crisis considering that a country requires more than 90% per cent of households should have adequate iodine,” she said.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), through the European Union-FAO co-funded project, on Wednesday handed over an equipped-lab to the Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA).
By Landing Ceesay