Standards Bureau sensitises water processors on national ideals
In their quest to inform stakeholders on the national ideals, the Gambia Standards Bureau has embarked on a series of proactive engagements on the various national standards it has published as official national standards.
The Bureau kick-started this move by holding a sensitisation forum with enterprises engaged in the packaging of portable drinking water during a meeting held at the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) Conference Hall last week. The forum brought together 30 participants from all over the country.
The objective of the information-sharing forum was meant to raise awareness of these enterprises on published standards related to water and other issues, such as hygienic practices, labeling and promoting their implementation at the enterprise level.
In addition, other services that the Bureau provides in order to facilitate trade and ensure quality of products and services, notably testing, certification and metrology (calibration of measuring devices) were well-featured as part of the programme.
In his opening statement, the Director General of the Gambia Standards Bureau, Papa Secka thanked participants for their response and urged them to actively participate in seeking clarifications. He used the forum to reiterate that the Bureau is not a regulator, but rather a facilitator for industrial development, promotion of standards and quality of products and services, and thereby providing health and safety of consumers.
DG Secka further stressed to the participants that whoever wishes to stay in business must take necessary measures to adhere to the relevant standard applications to their operations and any other additional requirements that the regulator may specify. “Implementation of relevant standards not only makes business in terms of profitability and staying ahead of competitors, but assures compliance with the relevant regulations since the latter are generally referenced to applicable standards as a transparent approach to enforcement.”
Bai Dodou Jallow, Standards Officer at the Bureau, did a presentation on Gambian Standards on Packaged/Bottled Drinking Water, Gambian Standards on Natural Mineral Water, Gambian Standards on the Principles of Food Hygiene and Gambian Standards on Labeling of Prepackaged Foods.
The presentation covered different sections of the standards, thus exposing to the participants the key requirements specified in all these standards. This was followed by a very interactive session of contributions, questions and sharing of experiences by the participants.
The participants were unanimous in acknowledging that the forum has clarified quite a lot of misconceptions they had. For example, the difference between packaged drinking water and natural mineral water, the key elements that should be provided in a label of a packaged product, and basic hygiene, among others. The other six standards on rice, sugar, tomato paste, edible fats and oils, flour and peanuts (groundnuts), were also showcased.
Abdoulie Cham, the metrologist at the National Metrology Laboratory of the Bureau gave an overview of their work and the importance of accurate measurements in preventing waste which costs money.
In his closing remarks, the vice-president of the Association of Packaged Drinking Water Producers, Sulayman Jammeh thanked the Bureau for organising such an important gathering. He advised his colleagues to endeavour to use these national standards in their water production work, in order to ensure the supply of safe -water and to also comply with the requirements of the regulatory authority.
The Bureau and the participants agreed to continue this collaborative work, by creating a partnership and scheme for future support on the use and implementation of national standards.