The University’s College of Food Science and Human Ecology (COLFHEC), in conjunction with the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) and the University of Ghana (UG), Legon have held a training workshop tagged, “Food Safety for Nutritionists and other Health Professionals (FSN), 2016”.
Speaking at the Opening Ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Oyewole, congratulated the College for the workshop, conveying deep appreciation of the University Management to the facilitators
of the programme. Represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development, Professor Ololade Enikuomehin, the Vice-Chancellor said that hosting the workshop indicated that the University was on course, as he thanked the organisers for the opportunity of showcasing the University. The Vice-Chancellor stated that issues bordering on food safety and nutrition were important components of the attempt to keep human lives very safe, especially in the nation, where the economy was a determining factor in what people eat.
The Vice-Chancellor, who is also the President, Association of African Universities (AAU), stated that everyone needed to be concerned about matters of food safety. “The link between that concern and this programme was the fact that no matter how much you know, no matter how much you put in place, except there is a medium of transfer of the requisite knowledge to the people that are supposed to be the end users, we are not making any impact. So, issues of human capital development capacity building are a link between that knowledge and the commitment of government to tie back that knowledge to end users and that is why this training programme is very important”, he added.
He noted that the workshop was a critical component of the food value chain, where individuals are schooled, taught and empowered to go on the line, to be able to translate the knowledge gained into other end users. Professor Oyewole, who stated that he belonged to the College, charged COLFHEC to come out with specific proposal on how to have a Food Safety and Nutrition Training Institute in the University.
The Dean of COLFHEC, Professor Lateef Sanni, appreciated the Programme Coordinator, Professor Folake Henshaw, who is also the immediate past Dean of COLFHEC, and her team for consistently delivering quality service on human development in the area of food safety and nutrition. Professor Sanni said that investment in the improvement of capacity of actors in the value chain was very important, saying that Nigeria started well in the 1970s with the existence of environmental officers popularly known as ‘wole wole’. He noted that such structure was still there in the state ministries of health, although there was no working capital and funds to support the programme. He noted that the essence of training was to renew people’s understanding of food safety traceability and how best to monitor it.
The Programme Coordinator, Professor Folake Henshaw, had described the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), as a nonprofit and global organisation, whose mission entailed improving public health and well-being of the people by supporting scientific research and educational programmes relating to food, health and safety. She recalled that food-borne illness remained one of the major public health problems and a major cause of malnutrition, particularly in infants and young children, adding that each year, approximately 76 million cases of food-borne illness occur in the United States of America alone, as more than 325,000 people are hospitalised while about 5,000 deaths occur. Citing reasons such as public health issues, increasing world population and globalisation, food moves across borders, global incidence of increased food-borne diseases, emerging food borne hazards-microbiological and chemical hazards, among others as being the imperative of holding the food safety training.
Professor Henshaw gave examples of food-borne diseases caused by microbiological hazards to include Cholera, Campylobacteriosis and Listeriosis. She added that such diseases could also be caused by chemical hazards, which were natural toxins (Mycotoxins), also known as aflatoxin and ochratoxins; heavy metals; excessive use of antibiotics in animal feeds as well as pesticide residues. Justifying the essence of the workshop, she disclosed that “Training and education of stakeholders along the food supply chain is an important strategy that will lead to improvement in the safety and nutritional adequacy of food supplies”.
The Programme Coordinator stated that food safety enhances consumer protection, consumer confidence, improved public health/nutrition and boosting of tourism. Others include improvement in the quality of food supply and safe guarding of investment in agriculture. She, however, revealed some of the food safety preventive measures as the continuous monitoring of all aspect of the food supply chain; regulation and control of pesticides, veterinary drugs and food additives; training and education; as well as existence of relevant government policies, stressing that preventive measures were always better than cure.
Dignitaries present at the occasion include the Director, Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies (CENTS), Professor Adewale Dipeolu; the Deputy Dean, COLFHEC, Dr. Adegoke Bakare; College Officer of COLFHEC, Mr. Ishaq Odunjo; ILSI-Associate/ILSI-UG Food Safety and Nutrition Training Centre, Mr. Benjamin Mintah; as well as participants from hospitals, universities, polytechnics and food scientific officers from the Ogun State Local Government Service Commission.