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Liberia continues to make progress with National Codex Committee


In October 2017 Steve Mambu, Laboratory Director at the National Standards Laboratory in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry spoke about the launch of the National Codex Committee in Liberia.

At a recent Codex workshop in Nairobi we caught up with Steve again and asked him for an update on progress.

In Liberia food standards are key to facilitating trade.

Steve: As a result of the assessment of the food safety situation in Liberia, it was recommended we establish a food law. So I can tell you we have now validated the food law, which is before parliament. Our target is from now until June 2018 we should have a legislated food law that will lead to the establishment of a national food authority.

Q: How much of that food law is based on international standards?

Steve: Our work is based on international standards and best practices. One of the major features is food control systems where the different ministeries with responsibility for food safety devolve those tasks to the food authority. We are also taking into account risk assessment, risk management and risk commuciation as the basis of tackling the issue of food safety.

Rice farmer in Liberia

Rice farmer in Liberia

Q: What involvement will you have this year in Codex?

Steve: We have selected the groups of interest based on national priorities. And so we are looking at pesticide residues, food contaminants and then we have the issue of food safety in general. For major working groups we have set up mirror groups back home. These are things we have done and currently we have adopted about 50 Codex standards through our standard/external harmonisation systems.

Q: And these standards will become law?

Steve: Yes. For now they are a voluntary system of standards and we are recommending them to the rightful regulatory bodies, like the Ministry of Health. So those are the steps we have taken. And lastly we are now organising food safety awareness for all actors along the value chain. Food hygiene for example is basic to us. We also want to look at the whole food environment. We will investigate  general market conditions, apply food hygiene and create awareness for market women; those who sell on to restaurants and to hotels to create awareness of food hygiene.

Q: Do you think food safety will be high on the agenda of your new President?

Steve: Yes, obviously and as I speak, we have had our first discussion with the Minister designate and we have introduced the issue of food safety and the Codex system. So they have taken it as a very real issue, especially connected to the economic issues we have. We are diversifying our economy into agriculture and we want to export, so obviously food standards are key to facilitating trade.