Requirements for Import/Labelling/Traceability of foodand feed in the Gambia
In accordance to the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2011, the FSQA has requirements as to the importation, labeling as well as traceability of products released in markets of The Gambia. All importers of food should therefore observe these requirements and ensure that the following requirements are observed at all times. Ignorance of the law cannot be used as an excuse.
Registration and licensing of food or feed business
Part IX Section 32 of the Food Safety and Quality Act states that:
“A person shall not operate a business dealing in food or feed unless he or she is registered with the Authority”
Part VII Section 28:
“A person shall not place unsafe food on the market and a person who contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of one hundred thousand Dalasis or three years imprisonment or both.”
Requirements for traceability of food and feed
Food business operators should ensure effective procedures are in place to deal with any food safety hazard and to enable the complete, rapid recall of any implicated lot of the finished food from the market. Where a product has been withdrawn because of an immediate health hazard, other products which are produced under similar conditions, and which may present a similar hazard to public health, should be evaluated for safety and may need to be withdrawn.
Part X section 37 (1):
“A food or feed business operator shall establish the traceability of food, feed, food producing animals and any other substance intended to be incorporated into a food or feed at all stages of production, processing and distribution.”
Part X Section 38 (4)
“Where a food or feed business operator considers or has reason to believe that a food or feed which he or she has placed on the market may be injurious to human health, he or she shall –
- Immediately inform the Authority
- Inform the Authority on the steps taken to prevent any risk to the final consumer”
Recalled products should be held under supervision until they are destroyed, used for purposes other human consumption, determined to be safe for human consumption, or reprocessed in a manner to ensure their safety.
Prepackaged foods should be labeled with clear instruction to enable the next person in the food chain to handle, display, store, and use the product safely. There are useful guides applicable in this respect, for example the codex general standard for labeling of prepackaged foods (CODEX STAIN 1-1985, Rev. (1991). Thus, Part X section 42 (1) of the Food Safety and Quality Act states:
- “A food business operator shall not use labels and methods for labeling food that:
a) Has a tendency to mislead the purchaser to a material degree…”
- “The labels shall be in English language although additional labels in any other language may be used”
Non compliance procedures
Part XVI Section 56 (1 and 2):
“If a competent person nominated under section 19 has reason to believe that a food or feed business operator has failed to comply with any provision of this Act or regulation made under it, he or she shall serve an improvement notice on that food or feed business operator. A person who fails to comply with an improvement notice commits an offence and is liable to be charged under the applicable provision of this Act.”
The food safety and quality authority aims at protecting consumers adequately from illness or injury caused by food and provide assurance that food is suitable for human consumption. Therefore importers, industries, and manufacturers should ensure that they provide food which is safe and suitable for consumption; ensure that consumers have clear and easily-understood information by way of proper labeling and other appropriate means; and maintain confidence in internationally traded food.
Recommended international standards are available and The Gambia Standards Bureau has developed standards in foods that are considered to be of high priority in The Gambia. All food business operators are advised to get tthese standards and put them into good use.