ECOWAS holds a regional training workshop on the development and monitoring of a HARMONIZED GUIDE FOR RISK-BASED SANITARY INSPECTION OF FOOD PRODUCTS AND DECISION MAKING IN THE ECOWAS AND SAHEL REGIONBy Admin / 3 weeks, 3 days ago
From May 2 to 6, 2023 in Cotonou – Benin, competent authorities, sanitary regulators and inspectors from the 15 member States plus Chad plus Mauritania and partners met physically to build the technical capacities of sanitary inspectors, competent food safety authorities and actors to develop and monitor sanitary inspection and decision-making guide, to establish a technical working group, as a forum for exchanges between countries, to develop a harmonized guide for risk-based sanitary inspection of food products and decision making in the ECOWAS and Sahel region, to be presented at the next annual West Africa and Sahel regional food safety and regulatory convergence meeting.
Following the growing challenges of food safety, the ECOWAS Commission and its partners has established in July 2022 a regional food safety regulatory convergence forum for better regional coordination and harmonization. The regional food safety convergence has adopted an action plan for 2023 and beyond and one of the key activities among others is “to develop a harmonized inspection, certification and decision-making guide for foodstuffs and training of sanitary inspectors”. The application of a harmonized risk based sanitary inspection and decision-making guide will contribute to improve countries’s sanitary inspection system, food business operator’s environment and services, thus improving regional food safety compliance, protecting human health and ensuring regional safe trade of agriculture products.
The national competent authorities in charge of sanitary inspection of foodstuffs for protecting human and animal health, compliance to regional and international food safety best practices, and boosting national and, regional safe trade are challenged with limited capacity, qualified human and financial resources. To assist, development of a harmonized risk based sanitary inspection, certification and decision-making guide for foodstuffs will strengthen the national sanitary inspection system, scientific and technical competences to timely detect and accurately identify harmful food safety organisms/chemicals, and to develop and implement appropriate response measures to prevent food safety-related outbreaks as a result of the infection/contamination of agriculture products, boosting safe intra/interregional and international trade.
Ultimately the outcomes are i) Improved capacity of sanitary inspectors and competent food safety actors to develop and utilize harmonized sanitary inspection and decision-making guides during sanitary inspection operations, ii) Improved capacity sanitary inspectors and competent food safety authorities and actors to develop and monitor first steps of food business operators guides to support national inspection operations, iii) a technical regional working group is established to continue work on harmonized Guide, iv) increased capacity of inspectors - their ability to detect non-compliances increases, v) adopted roadmap for next steps.