The review revealed that Morocco’s food industry needs more regulation for the protection of consumers’ health.
Rabat – Morocco’s Economic, Social, and Environmental Council (CESE) highlighted Morocco’s need for a clear public food safety policy.
During a virtual meeting held on Wednesday, June 17, the President of the CESE, Ahmed Reda Chami, presented several recommendations based on a review titled: “For a real public food safety policy focused on the protection of consumers and the promotion of sustainable competitiveness of companies at the national and international level.”
The review aims to identify possible avenues to improve food safety in Morocco and present realistic and viable solutions to the issues facing professionals and public authorities in this domain.
Chami began his presentation by clarifying that the issues raised on food safety are not exclusive to Morocco, but a universal challenge facing all countries.
The Moroccan politician recalled a “worrying and rather disturbing” World Health Organization report which revealed that nearly 10% of the world population falls sick every year due to spoiled food, and that 420,000 people die from food poisoning annually. Children represent one-third of food poisoning deaths.
In Morocco, data from the national epidemiological surveillance system shows that 1,000 to 1,600 cases of food poisoning occur every year, with a hospitalization rate of 30% to 45%.
Morocco has made significant progress in food safety since 2009, thanks to the adoption of Law 25-08 establishing the National Office for Sanitary Security of Food Products (ONSSA), Law 28-07 relating to the sanitary safety of food products, and Law 31-08 enacting consumer protection measures, Chami said.
The country’s progress in terms of food safety has allowed Moroccan products to penetrate international food markets. However, “we note that a multitude of establishments have no health authorizations and put on the market products that expose the health of the consumer to uncontrolled threats,” Chami deplored.
The expert gave an example with the use of pesticides, which the standards in force do not sufficiently control.
The CESE president also mentioned the absence of an integrated public food safety policy, causing several challenges, such as the predominance of the informal sector and the limited power of consumer rights organizations.
Based on the review, Chami presented three main recommendations for the Moroccan government.
The first recommendation is to quickly develop a public food safety policy that regulates the food industry and protects the health of consumers.
The CESE also recommended the creation of a national agency that has the power to control and monitor food safety in Morocco and to penalize regulation violators.
Finally, the committee suggested the establishment of an independent scientific risk assessment committee. The committee’s main task would be to provide scientific advice to the existing institutions and to ensure the independence, impartiality, and integrity of information related to food safety.
Following the presentation, the president of the commission in charge of the environment and sustainable development at the CESE, Abderrahim Ksiri, explained that the review offers a global diagnosis on all Moroccan chains of supply, production, processing, and distribution.
Ksiri also highlighted the coexistence of two production systems in Morocco. The first “modern capitalist” system offers good quality and is primarily intended for foreign markets.
Meanwhile, the second system is “more modest in terms of the means used to produce food” and mainly targets local consumers.