4 February 2013

Cameroon: The Sacrificial Lamb

All nations are in search of food security. Many of them in the western world are close to self-sufficiency by virtue of their level of industrialisation. Many in the third world are still dangling and measuring the long distance separating them and food security. But the search for food security has ushered in very undesirable effects, the main one of them being the absence of food safety.

Consumers are still to come to terms as to why actors in the food producing sector especially industrialists have been invading the markets with non conventional food products. Stakeholders in food production were visibly disturbed last week on the occasion of the just ended 20th session of Codex Alimentarus for the food sector.is or Food Code (a combination of international standards on food items drawn up within the United Nation's system). In effect, the invasion of the market by food produced in disrespect of set norms is instead posing a danger to the life of the population.

The trouble, is should be noted, is not that set standards are absent. In Cameroon for instance, of the 300 standards drawn up in 1996, 116 of them concerns the food sector. Unfortunately, the level of application by industrialists and other actors remains regrettably low. The seven classes of food items constrained under the canopy of standards and norms are known to be posing lots of problems to the population which is being used a sacrificial lamb. From the look of things, these products; canned foods, sea products and fruits, foodstuffs, vegetables, fruits, wine, liquor, soft drinks and milk are suffering from the hands of negligence and lack of serious control.

The question on every mind perhaps is, who controls what, when and how? All these questions have an answer and this is found in the 1996 law. Maybe the question ought to have taken a different shape; how do these products penetrate the whole gamut of controllers, at the borders, the ports and the internal control set up? Negligence may be the right response to this. That said, the danger in all these is the health of the population. As the saying goes, you can joke with anything but not that which enters the mouth and stomach of a human being. The situation is getting worse and necessitates urgent action to save the life of the population. At least the producers care less about the health of the people, controllers should be careful not to fall into this trap.

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