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Codex Fiji organizes Word Food Safety Day event for schools and other stakeholders


The National Codex Committee (NCC) of Fiji organized a nation-wide World Food Safety Day awareness event this year, for which the Honourable Minister for Agriculture and the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture delivered statements. The event also included booths and a school oratory contest, as well as some presentations by the NCC itself, to explain the importance of Codex. Other attendees included more than 150 representatives of institutions, government and NGOs.

The Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and the Environment, Mahendra Reddy, published an official World Food Safety Day statement in which he described food safety challenges and responsibilities. “We should continue to promote and strengthen the use of food safety management systems by food business operators and build capacities of consumers to make healthy food choices,” he wrote.

Vinesh Kumar, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Coordinator of the Codex Coordinating Committee for North America and the South West Pacific (CCNASWP) delivered his statement at the event. He welcomed guests to the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters where the event took place, and spoke about the impacts of unsafe food and the fact that “everyone has a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food we consume is safe and does not damage our health.”

He described the Ministry’s mandate “to ensure food and nutrition security for all Fijians” and that food and nutrition security is a core priority of the Ministry of Agriculture’s five-year Strategic Development Plan that is now awaiting endorsement from the nation’s Premier.

Kumar also talked about the impact on Fijians of an unhealthy diet. “Around 80 percent of the deaths in Fiji are caused by noncommunicable diseases (NCDs),” he said, “and these numbers are growing.” He made it clear that NCDs are the result of choices made by consumers, and that “you can change your way of living” to improve health.

He called on the students present, from ten different schools, to “make full use of this platform to learn as much as you can about food safety and ensure that you champion this cause, not only at your school, but especially at your home.”

The winner of the oratory competition, Litiana Radinirua, from Adi Cacobau School also emphasized the high incidence of NCDs. “Noncommunicable diseases in Fiji are on the rise,” she said. “According to Ministry of Health data, in 2020 alone, 5 700 people lost their lives due to complications relating to noncommunicable diseases.” She started her oration with a personal story about foodborne illness and went on to ask her audience how they can know their food is safe to eat. She said that the only way of ensuring safe food is to practice sustainable farming.

Farming was also a key subject of Charlize Smith’s oration. Smith, from St Joseph Secondary School, took second place in the competition with a plea for a green revolution in Fijian agriculture that considers the impacts of climate change on food production. “We must not only export our local fruits and vegetables, but we must also export local knowledge and act globally,” she said.

The Ministry gave out prizes to the winners of the competition, including water bottles, tote bags, vegetable seeds and organic manure.