By Madiba Singhateh
The Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA) of the Gambia is mute over the controversial health certificate issued to Golden Lead Company Limited in Gunjur.
The Golden Lead Fishmeal Factory produces (FMFO) fishmeal and oils for fish farms and for consumption.
According to the information, FSQA sent a letter sometime in September last year notifying them about the invalidity of their Health certificate issued to them by one Muctar Sonko, the principal inspector; that the Health Certificate which was dated June 30th 2019, was forged and that this Sonko is no longer working with the FSQA; that the letter states that all certificates from FSQA are handwritten and are without electronic signature or stamp name tags.
The letter further informed that Muctarr Sonko was not the current signatory to any certificate(s) as he was no longer with the FSQA. This particular one is said to have been signed by Zainab Jallow, director at FSQA.
When contacted to shed light on the issue, Bai Dodou Jallow, the Director of Scientific Affairs at FSQA Office in Kotu East, said he did not know about the matter but later confirmed to this reporter that the letter is indeed from their office; hence it bears the stamp and logo of FSQA. He however said that he will get back to this reporter on the issue of the fake certificate issued to Golden Lead to no avail.
FSQA was established by an Act of Parliament called ‘The Food Safety and Quality Act 2011” and it became operational in 2013.
The FSQA is the sole national competent authority with powers of delegation mandated to officially control the safety and quality of food and animal feed, whether locally produced, imported or for export.
The FSQA is placed under the Office of the Vice President as its line Ministry for reporting and provision of political support for the implementation of its mandate. The work of the Authority is expected to contribute to consumer health and safety, the facilitation of trade and control of fraudulent and deceptive food marketing, labeling and advertising practices.
Its vision is to ensure an integrated and coherent approach by ensuring that all relevant food safety hazards are taken into account and that resources are allocated to control food safety hazards which can impact negatively on consumers’ health, trade and commerce.