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Improving food safety vital for economic development

New tool to inform actions and decisions rolled out

Eswatini Kitchen factory in Swaziland. Exports products to international destinations. ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

12 June 2015, Windhoek - Effective food safety and quality management systems are essential not only for safeguarding the health and well-being of people, but also in fostering economic development and improving livelihoods. Senior government experts from southern Africa met at a workshop in Namibia to learn about a new tool that informs actions and decisions aimed at improving food safety.

Speaking at the official opening of the four-day workshop, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representative to Namibia, Babagana Ahmadu, highlighted the importance of food safety as a key component of food and nutrition security as well as a critical ingredient for economic development.

“The work of FAO in food safety is based on the right to food and we believe that consumers have the right to expect that the food available on domestic markets is safe and of the desired quality,” Mr Ahmadu said. “Through the Codex Alimentarius, FAO plays a central role in providing a forum where countries can dialogue and establish international agreed upon food standards with the view of not only protecting the health of consumers, but also facilitating trade,” he added.

Enhanced capacity for science-based decisions

As microbiological food safety issues are brought to the attention of risk managers, there needs to be a systematic preliminary process that brings particular issues into focus and guides further action. Changing life-styles and population demographics, global food trade to provide a year-round supply of fruits and vegetables, and novel foods are but a few examples of potential increased food safety risks.

With the increasing need for risk based scientific advice to better manage microbiological food safety issues, FAO and International Life Sciences Institute – South Africa (ILSI-SA) partnered in the delivery of the first ever hands on Microbiological Risk Assessment (MRA) training in southern Africa.

 “The purpose of the workshop is to create awareness as to what risk assessment is actually all about and to equip the high level government experts attending this workshop with the knowhow of conducting successful microbiological assessments and thus convince their governments to commit towards embarking on this process in the future,” said Lucia Anelich Executive and Scientific Director of ILSI-SA.

No quick fix solutions

Food safety management is an ongoing process as there are constant changes taking place. Foodborne illnesses resulting from microbiological food safety issues are intricate problems that cannot be resolved through a quick fix solution but require a complex combination of factors that must be managed on a continual basis.

Jean Kamanzi, FAO Food Safety and Quality officer for the Africa region notes that major changes are in the horizon for the continent. “Africa now has a large middle class which is still growing. So people have more resources, people are better educated and they are going to be more demanding of the safety and quality of the product that they are buying”.

The workshop was funded by ILSI and the African Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF). The fund is a unique Africa-led initiative aimed at improving agriculture and food security across the continent.

 

Additional Information

  1. Website - www.codexalimentarius.org
  2. Opening statement by Babagana Ahmadu, FAO representative in Namibia, here.
  3. Interview with Lucia Anelich Executive and Scientific Director of ILSI-SA. Listen here.
  4. Interview with Jean Kamanzi, FAO Food Safety and Quality officer for the Africa region, here.
  5. Photos album from the workshop here.

Media Contacts

FAO Namibia, helena.kasheeta@fao.org +26481330530

FAO Southern Africa Office, edward.ogolla@fao.org +263 771681178 

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