Though food vending as a noble profession has been challenged with inadequacy of:
Infrastructure and facilities, Basic hygiene, Awareness and expertise, Technical
Support, Human resources and other psychological factors.
People have the right to expect the food they eat to be safe and suitable for consumption. Food borne illness and injury are at best unpleasant, at worst, they can be fatal but there are also other consequences. Outbreak of food borne illness can damage trade and tourism, and lead to loss of earnings, unemployment, litigation and State embarrassment with its consequent economic implications. Food spoilage is wasteful, costly and adversely affects trade and consumer confidence. The recent developments in the economy of the country have led to a phenomenal increase in number of MSMEs and proliferation of eateries. Thus, street food outlets ‘mama puts, bukkaterias’ and food vendors in our cities and villages are widespread, so much so that on an average daily basis, a meal is consumed away from home. Most of those involved in these emerging food businesses are neither aware of the principles and importance of food hygiene nor other best practices that do ensure food safety nor the environmental requirements in which these foods are produced or vended. The widespread practice of open display and exposure of ready-to-eat foods and the inadequacies of the existing food safety systems portend great dangers to public health. The inadequate knowledge of food safety among food handlers; market food vendors, street food vendors, hotel workers, restaurants operators, fast food operators, caterers, supermarket operators, food transporters, processors, consumers and other allied food operators contribute significantly to the threat posed by food borne contaminants.
As over 200 known diseases are transmitted through food, the symptoms and severity of food borne illnesses vary depending on the causative agent(s) and severity can vary from mild disturbances to death of victim. The prevalence and severity of food-borne illnesses in Nigeria are often grossly underestimated because not every victim visits the hospital. Even when this is done, hospital records of cases are not readily available. Food-borne illnesses (cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, hepatitis A, ameobaisis, helminthiasis, etc.) and secondary complications(cancer, diabetes, organ dysfunction) are a major public health concern as it impacts negatively on the health of individuals giving rise to reduced economic productivity. Food safety is founded on a scientific understanding of linkages between physical, chemical and biological potential hazards in food which requires a multidisciplinary approach. Therefore everyone, (including government, farmers and growers, manufacturers and processors, vendors and consumers, communities and organizations) has a responsibility to ensure that food is safe and suitable for consumption. Some people can have food-borne illness, also known as “food poisoning”, and not even know they have it. Many people experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. You should see a doctor as soon as possible if you think you have a foodborne illness.
The association of food vendors in Nigeria, through various schemes, educates both vendors and consumers on the importance of quality and safe food practices. We create food safety awareness to the public. As such, we promote a clean environment for food preparation, ensuring healthy food handling and processes. Proper food safety practices would control emerging pathogens and reduce common food poisons such as :
E. coli O157:H7
Hepatitis A and E
Plants and animal toxins
Association of Food Vendors in Nigeria (AFVN) is a member of National Food Safety Management Committee (NFSMC) through the National Policy of Food Safety and its implementation strategy. The Committee’s mandates amongst:
1. Coordinate all programs related to food safety
2. Facilitate the design, and coordinate training programmes for all stakeholders along the food supply chain.
3. Facilitate the development and/or updating of standards, regulations, guidelines, code of practice, manuals, SOPs etc for public and private sectors.
4. Inform the public and private sectors about current and emerging food safety issues.