FCTA Tasks Food Handlers On Hygiene

By: Prudence Okonna

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), has called on all Food Service Facilities domiciled in the nation’s capital to adhere strictly to operation guidelines and high standards of hygiene to safeguard public health in the Territory.
Accordingly, this compliance will further ensure optimal services to the public, promote effective public health and avoid sanctions during inspections.

Head, Environmental and Occupational Health, Public Health Department, Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS), FCT, Modi Jubrin, made the call in an exclusive chat with Abuja Digest in Abuja, Monday.

Jubrin explained that it is important to make the call following the recent court judgment in the favour of the FCT Administration, which gives the FCTA the legal right to inspect food service establishments in the Territory to ensure that standard operation procedures are adhered to.

He recounted that the one-year legal battle came to an end after the Court ruled on 12th July 2023 in favour of FCTA. 

Jubrin noted that this followed an originating summon dated 21st March 2022 with Applicant as Dunes Investment and Global Services and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and FCTA as first and second respondents respectively.

He explained that AMAC had approached Dunes Investment and Global Services to inspect its facility but was refused access following the history of inspections by the FCTA, which appeared like a conflict of roles. The applicant thereafter sued to ascertain the appropriate authority to inspect its facility.

The environmental health expert stated that throughout the court process, they presented facts beyond reasonable doubt based on the national policy that stated clearly the functions of the Federal Ministry of Health, the State Ministry of Health, and the Area Councils.

His words: “We presented facts beyond a reasonable doubt based on the national policy that clearly stated the functions of the Federal Ministry of Health and State Ministry of Health which we fall under and the functions of the Area Council”.

Jubrin noted that the FCT subsidiary legislation gives the HHSS and by extension the Environmental and Occupational Health Division of the Public Health Department, the power to inspect all food service establishments and other regulated services in the FCT.

The environmental health expert said the Division will perform oversight functions, carry out surveillance and bi-annual screening of food handlers, as well as inspect and register food services establishments.

He noted that they are to ensure proper sanitation of the environment, proper disposal of waste, storage of wet and dry food items, and proper pest control where food services are provided.

The Environmental Health expert reiterated that the Division will go on a six-monthly basis to screen and inspect Food handlers to ensure they are fit to serve the public and this will involve taking samples from them to ascertain they are free from diseases that are communicable.

In line with the provisions of the National Policy on Food Safety 2014, the role of the state Ministry of Health is to supervise, inspect, screen, and investigate food services establishments as well as their handlers.

Item vii, Chapter One, paragraph 1.2.1, Table 3 (3) states the mandates of the state ministry of health read thus: “Conduct bi-annual medical examination of food handlers and issue medical certificate of fitness accordingly”.