FAO/WHO Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators
Improving Efficiency and Transparency in Food Safety Systems
Summaries of Conference Room Documents for theme 2 Risk Management
The paper describes the 2001Plan for the Control of Residues and Hygiene. This covers those chemical residues, additives, toxins and microorganisms that represent the highest risk for the consumer. Risks are classified according to two criteria: the hazard nature of a determined chemical in different food items and the consumption patterns of the population of those food items. It also describes the procedure for taking corrective action when a predetermined action level in an identified chemical has been exceeded and led to an excessive exposure of the population to risk. Corrective actions are taken throughout the food chain after having identified the critical entry points of the chemicals into the food.
The paper describes the food quality and safety objectives and experiences relating to management of food safety risks under specific projects. These projects include production and quality control of locally produced infant food and developing a food safety programme and quality control system. Results obtained show a reduction in cases of infant diarrhoea and adoption of codes of good hygienic practice. Difficulties relate to the low educational level of the mothers and indicate the need for increased awareness raising on the direct link between food safety and foodborne diseases. The paper identifies several specific actions that needed to be taken to improve the situation, including consumer education; review of food control system and of food safety regulations; implementation of food handlers education programmes; review and updating of food legislation and regulation; food legislation enforcement and monitoring programmes.
The paper describes a project to produce nutritious and safe infant food and follow-up formula by applying good hygienic practices, quality criteria by traditional and semi-traditional production units (woman/mother driven). Formulas are composed of cereal-based flours and enriched flours that are locally produced. Enriched flours lead to a reduction in cases of diarrhoea and showed an improvement in the nutritional status of infants and under-nourished children.
A fatal case of food poisoning caused by altered sugarcane was discovered in the 1970s in the northern part of China. Because of its unknown aetiology and the very high fatality rate, particularly among children, the case was considered one of the major food safety concerns in the country. The Ministry of Health in collaboration with academia conducted a series of field surveys, laboratory tests and clinical studies which led to the elucidation of the aetiology of this specific food poisoning. Based on the findings, specific control measures (i.e. to control the duration and condition of sugarcane storage) were promulgated at the central level and implemented by local health institutions: This resulted in a quick and efficient control of the food poisoning. China's experience in this case demonstrated that: 1) when food poisoning of unknown causes occurs, it is crucial to take proper action quickly and find out its etiology, followed by the development of specific control measures to be implemented by local health workers. This will result in a quick and efficient control of the food poisoning; 2) close collaboration between government food safety officials (risk managers) and academic food safety experts (risk assessors), as well as between central government agencies and local government agencies is critical in solving food safety emergencies.
Avian influenza (AI) uniquely occurred in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China via cross species transmission from live chickens to man. Twenty cases (1997 -1999) resulted for the first time, in six human mortalities. Mass depopulation of poultry from farms, wholesale and retail markets followed to prevent further AI infection in man and to avert a recombination between AI and human influenza strains. Consequently, the SAR government decreed mandatory the testing for H5-AI virus antibodies in all imported and local poultry prior to their release for retail; an end to overcrowding of animals in stalls; segregation at all levels of ducks, geese and quails from all other poultry; an improvement in levels of sanitation and the disinfection of poultry works and stalls. Long term considerations include the centralisation of slaughtering with a suspension on the supply of live chickens.
The incidence of human campylobacteriosis in Iceland reached epidemic proportions between June 1998 and March 2000. The epidemic was almost exclusively due to an increase in domestically acquired infections, mostly traced to the consumption of fresh chicken. Prior to 1996 it was only permitted to sell frozen poultry in food stores, but with the change of regulations, fresh poultry was allowed and sales increased significantly. Interventions consisting of an educational programme for farmers; an extensive surveillance programme for Campylobacter in poultry; freezing all known Campylobacter-positive broiler flocks before they go to retail and extensive consumers education were implemented in the beginning of 2000. These measures have resulted in a reduction of domestic and total number of cases of campylobacteriosis between 1999 and 2001.
The development of food safety standards is handled by governmental bodies (e.g. Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Hygiene and Medical Education; Institute of Standards and Industrial Research) through a national food safety programme. National maximum residue limits have been developed (according to Codex norms) and applied during the investigation and monitoring of pesticides and heavy metal residues. A Mycotoxin Unit has recently been established and draft national mycotoxin standards have been developed and are at the final stages of approval. The current 4-year plan at the Iran Veterinary Organization (I.V.O) includes the establishment of a reference laboratory and the application of HACCP system in the production of foods of animal origin. This follows the successful introduction of HACCP in fish processing plants. On the other hand, FAO is assisting the Iran government in the management and control of veterinary drugs and pesticides residues in foods.
Hydroponically grown radish (Raphanus sativus) sprouts served in school lunches were epidemiologically implicated as the causative vehicle of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in the largest outbreak which occurred in Sakai City, Japan, in 1996. Laboratory experiments suggested the possibility that E. coli O157:H7 had grown during the production of radish sprouts. In order to improve the sanitation level in radish sprout production, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, developed a hygienic practice manual for radish sprouts production in October 1996, most recently revised in March 1998. The manual has adopted the concept of HACCP and identifies supplied water and seeds as critical control points (CCP).
Japan has prepared an epidemiological investigation and reporting system for foodborne outbreaks at the national level in accordance with the Food Sanitation Law. After the experience of large outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 in 1996, new measures were taken in various field to further improve the hygiene status of foods in Japan. Laws were amended, and new notices have been released. Strict hygiene practices have been introduced to abattoirs and meat processing plants, and long-term food saving program has been applied to institutional cooking facilities. Once enterohemorrhagic E. coli or Salmonella is isolated, they are subjected to genetic or serological typing, which also helps epidemiological investigations. Development of treatment and diagnostic agents has also been encouraged.
Over a 35-week period (September 1998 to May 1999), 265 cases of viral encephalitis were reported to the Ministry of Health, Malaysia. The cases occurred in four localities, originating in the Kinta district of Perak and spread rapidly with the movement of infected pigs, causing 105 human fatalities. The infection, contracted through `live' contact with body secretions, was initially treated as an outbreak of Japanese encephalitis, but proved positive for a new virus named `Nipah' of the Paramyxovirus group of enveloped RNA viruses. Local and international controls of the outbreak followed. Evacuation and quarantine of infected farms, including the extensive culling of pigs, was implemented alongside institutionalised protocols regarding disease prevention and management. With the financial implications to the Malaysian Government and pig rearing industry including a ban in the export of live pigs to Singapore (since March 1999), the establishment of Bio-security level 4 has been approved by the Cabinet in the 8th Malaysia Plan.
Presently, Myanmar uses agro-chemicals on 80% of national food crops while maintaining significantly low pesticide residue levels (relative to MRLs established by the WHO/FAO Codex Alimentarius Commission). However, this is expected to increase with changes in the pattern of cropping for high rice production and with the extension of food crops. In the early 1990s Myanmar experienced food trade problems, having violated MRLs (national and codex) of Organo Chlorines (OCs), contained in insecticides used on national food crops. Bans and restrictions on the use and import of various OC insecticides followed, causing a decrease in levels, though present use is still high (10% of food crops). Furthermore, the use of Pyrethroids is increasing, while Aflatoxin (Aspergillus Flavus) contamination represents another serious food safety concern (present in Peanut, Chilli and Maize crops). Myanmar Agricultural Services aim to improve levels of food safety through the establishment of national MRLs, staff training, the upgrading of food safety facilities and through development of the residue and market surveys.
Alarmed by the emergence of food borne disease incidence, in 1998 the national government created the National Food Security Council through an Executive Order. Under this, a National Food Safety Committee was organized to formulate a National Food Safety Policy Program. Together with partner agencies, a consultative meeting was convened to discuss and formulate a framework for a National Food Safety initiative. Several issues were raised in the consultative meetings with the committee establishing the following recommendations: 1. the formulation and issuance of a national policy on food safety; 2. the review of critical areas within the food chain, unprotected by laws or regulations and standards; 3. the development of a comprehensive Food Disease Surveillance System; 4. the development of detection methodologies and assessment in the emergence of GMOs. Action plans are formulated to develop strategies for implementation in 3 phases, namely Phase I (2002-2004), Phase II (2005-2007) and Phase III (2005-2007).
Central African Republic-1
Brochure showing the very low nutritional status of the population in the country.
Sweden has achieved efficient control of Salmonella, despite the industrialisation of animal production. The prevalence of Salmonella in feed, live animals and animal products produced in Sweden is very low. In beef and pork it is less than 0.05% and less than 0.1% in poultry at slaughter. This unique position has been achieved by a national control strategy from feed to food, which was initiated more than 40 years ago. A severe domestic Salmonella epidemic during 1953, involving more than 9000 people of which a few died, demonstrated the need for a more comprehensive control programme.
The rate of Listeriosis incidents stabilised in Switzerland in the 1990s due to an endemic level similar to that of other industrialised countries. Between 1990 and 1993, 3 to 6 cases per one million inhabitants were declared yearly, however no grouped cases were noted. In most cases, persons suffering from an immuno compromised system with a severe underlying pathology, generally of the neoplastic type, pregnant women, neonates and the elderly were the most affected. The most onset symptoms were meningitis or encephalo-meningitis, septicaemia and pneumonia. The case-fatality rate among the declared cases was 20%.
An outbreak of cholera (vibrio cholera) around Lake Victoria (1997) led to an EU market ban imposed on all respective fish (Nileperch) exports. Opposed by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, the ban was justified on the grounds of the `precautionary principle'. WHO risk analysis revealed that fish from the Lake did not pose a risk of cholera outbreak in Europe and a massive hygiene programme followed (under Recommended Codex Codes for fishery establishments and EU Directives), HACCP systems installed, resulting in a lifting of the EU ban. A second EU ban on Victoria Lake Fish imports (1999) regarded pesticide residues above tolerable levels, yet HACCP systems effectively ensured the safety and quality of fish products with multi-level awareness campaigns implemented. No Lake Victoria fish samples demonstrated the presence of pesticides residues, but over one year passed before the ban was lifted resulting in unrecoverable national economic losses. Consequently, compensation for retrospective economic loss and diligence in applications of the `precautionary principle' are required at the international level.
In Thailand, restaurants and street vendors can easily be found in not only the tourist areas but also in other communities in Bangkok and all other provinces. One reason is that there has been a decrease in the number of Thai citizens cooking at home possibly due to smaller families (comprising of two or three family members) and the increasingly fast-pace of city life with street vendors ready at their stalls by four or five in the evening with varieties of ready cooked foods for selection. Consumption of restaurant/street food is also made by thousands of tourists to Thailand each year. Since 1989, the Department of Health of the Ministry of Public Health together with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Interior who is responsible for all local governments in provinces around the country, have joined forces in a project aimed at assuring the good sanitation of all restaurants and street vendors in Thailand. The "Clean Food Good Taste" Project directly benefits the people of Thailand while also reassuring tourists of Thai food safety. Until now, 5,377 restaurants (of 11,731 applied) and 3,045 vendors (of 6,843 applied) have passed the criteria and been awarded the Clean Food Good Taste logo to be displayed at their businesses. Thirty percent of the awardees are randomly chosen and assessed twice a year. If good sanitation is not found, the award and logo will be revoked. The success of the Clean Food Good Taste Project is due to the application of four strategies: partnerships and co-ownership; quality assurance; sustainability and public awareness and involvement.
An outbreak of Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 infectious intestinal disease occurred in Central Scotland in late November 1996. A total of 496 cases were linked to the outbreak. In all there were 21 deaths of infected persons, although some were not as a direct result of the infection. All of those who died were elderly. The cause of the outbreak was traced to contamination of cooked meat at the butchers. Investigations revealed very poor food hygiene practices that allowed cross contamination between raw and cooked meat. This outbreak illustrates the importance of: a) Hazard analysis and implementation of control measures; b) Good management and staff training; c) Effective enforcement.
The Republic of Vanuatu has delegated specific government agencies responsible for addressing consumer food safety (e.g. Department of Public Health, Vanuatu Quarantine & Inspection Services), who are authorised to implement necessary procedures through a series of current food legislative acts (e.g. the Food Control Act No. 21 of 1993, Meat Industry Act No.5 of 1991). These government agencies collectively form the Vanuatu National Codex Committee (est.2000), introducing Codex Allimentarius Standards as a guideline to overseeing national food safety issues. Financial difficulties, a lack of qualified human resources and inadequate testing facilities, have been identified as obstacles to the achievement of food safety contributing to a lack of available data on food-borne illnesses in Vanuatu. Further assistance from developed countries and donor agencies (e.g. FAO, WHO) in developing food safety legislation, capacity building etc. is required.
Foodborne disease takes a major toll on health. Thousands of millions of people fall ill and many die as a result of eating unsafe food. Foodborne disease have implications both on health and development. Numerous outbreaks of foodborne disease have attracted media attention and raised consumer concern. However, the major problems are hidden among huge amounts of sporadic cases and smaller outbreaks. Most countries do not have good reporting systems, and a realistic estimation of the true burden of disease is difficult. WHO estimates 2.1 million deaths from diarrhoea worldwide, mainly caused by contaminated food and/or water. It is estimated that annually up to one third of the population, even in developed countries, suffer from foodborne disease. WHO initiatives to develop better methods to evaluate the foodborne disease burden, including strengthening foodborne disease surveillance, will serve to address this issue in the future.
The paper describes the national approach of the Côte d'Ivoire in the risk management of foodborne diseases and sets out basic needs (e.g. participation in the international standardization committee, WTO committees etc.) and orientations taken at the national level to ensure safer food, both for the domestic market and for foods for export. Assuming that the position of the international community is to implement an international risk management approach in accordance with orientations taken by international standard bodies (i.e. Codex Alimentarius Commission) and to improve the health of all consumers (the majority of which reside in developing countries or LDCs), the following crucial facts must be considered : a) the adoption of a risk-based approach requires a good knowledge of risk analysis and its components; b) implementing these policies requires voluntary, co-ordinated actions and follow-up technical assistance; c) effective participation of representatives from LDCs and developing countries in international standardization bodies is necessary in order to express their specific concerns; d) elaboration of international standards (e.g. Codex, OIE) should, without prejudice to the level of food safety, have immediate applicability for the majority of countries.
The designated national authority on food safety in Liberia, aims to increase public awareness of the risks of food poisoning and of preventive measures practicable throughout the food chain, in order to protect consumer health during consumption of Liberian food both nationally and internationally, whilst helping to maintain and enhance the reputation of Liberian food related industries. Liberia is constricted in it's endeavours towards food safety by the absence of a national food analytical laboratory for food quality control, due to the war. Food safety and health protection of consumers have become international issues, forcing most developed countries to examine how they ensure the safety of their food supply. Liberia's integrated approach towards the management of food safety throughout the food chain involves: a) the education of consumers and of risk communication; b) the convincing of industry of it's responsibility to produce and provide safe food; c) the development of an effective inspection service from farm to table; d) the aim that every Liberian food business recognizes the importance of food safety and makes it an integral part of their business.
The paper describes national institutions involved in food inspection in Mauritania. As Mauritania is an important meat producing and consuming country in the sub-region, priority was given very early to pre-mortem inspection and post-mortem inspection. Having a large coast on the Atlantic, production of fish and fish products is important and directed to export markets. Inspection is carried out soley on of fish intended for export. A national centre for hygiene is responsible for inspections of all foodstuffs intended for sale in Mauritania of animal and vegetable origin. Another body is in charge of the control of cereals and cereal products at entry points determined by law. The paper stresses that despite a significant lack of means, Mauritania is on the way to fostering food safety as a means to reducing food insecurity.
The food safety system in Canada operates in a multi-jurisdictional setting. At the federal level, the system is integrated by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Within the government, co-operative federal/provincial/territorial structures are in place including targeted funding support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). Two major integrated food safety initiatives are described B the Canadian Food Safety Adaptation Program (CFSAP) and the Canadian On-Farm Food Safety Program (COFFSP). Canada is committed to implementing an integrated and science-based approach to enhance food safety. The overall strategy is based on shared responsibility, the use of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles/practices and the introduction of leading technologies and detection methods within government and across the food industry. The goal is to enhance food safety in Canada and to maintain domestic and international recognition of the safety of Canadian products. Implementation of an integrated approach to enhance food safety has resulted in important lessons learned with respect to: the importance of the participation of partners/stakeholders from across the food continuum and the potential benefits such as improved lines of communication, the development of better regulatory policy and interventions and the efficient use of government resources; the practical challenges in working closely with partners/stakeholders to design and implement significant regulatory changes; the level of effort required by industry and other stakeholders to successfully implement changes; and the need for ongoing consultation with regulating staff as new skills and training may be required to meet emerging regulatory changes and the requirements of new science and technologies.
Consumers International supports the development of comprehensive "working principles for risk analysis," to support transparent food safety decision-making processes at both the international and national levels. Consistent, harmonized principles offer the promise of ensuring a high standard of health protection and food safety for consumers in all parts of the world, while avoiding creating unjustified trade barriers. The Codex Alimentarius Commission and several of its subsidiary bodies are currently developing consensus principles for risk analysis, and completion of that work is an urgent priority. Many opportunities for further progress in advancing risk management through sound principles are identified in this paper. They include spelling out more detailed principles for risk management of specific food safety problems, and expanding the Codex principles to make them useful as guidelines for national governments. A broader consensus is needed on clear principles for the application of precaution and on the roles of science and non-scientific other factors in food safety risk management. And the scientific advisory system on which Codex and many national governments rely for risk assessments needs to be expanded and improved, to increase the quantity and quality of risk assessments to keep pace with demand.
Since the late 1980s Denmark has implemented three separate pre-harvest programmes to control salmonella in broilers, pigs and layers of table eggs respectively. The programmes differ in the methods employed and to a minor extent in their goals. However, in many important aspects they are very similar. First, they are all based on the credo that if at all possible, foodborne zoonoses should be controlled at source (i.e. on the farm). Their successful implementation has relied to a large extent on co-operation between the authorities and the industry and on the ability to make use of the industry infrastructure, including the ability to unequivocally identify farms of origin. The authorities have delegated responsibility for technical co-ordination of the programmes to committees with representatives from science, government bodies and industry. Secondly, there has been a close involvement of microbiologists and epidemiologists in the planning and implementation of programmes. The parties involved in the undertaking have shown willingness to accept recommendations for the use of novel techniques in routine monitoring, for example, the serological examination of meat juice or egg yolks for salmonella antibodies. Finally, the hallmark of the Danish salmonella programmes has been a very close collaboration between medical and veterinary epidemiologists and microbiologists in monitoring the effect of the programmes on the incidence of human infection.
In Egypt food control functions are multisectoral. The Ministry of Health and Population administers food control through the Food Safety and Control Administration, the Institute of Nutrition and the Public Health Laboratories. These bodies act through ministerial laws and regulations; food inspectors; the Institute of Nutrition and public health laboratories (technically supervised by the Central Public Health Laboratories-CPHL). The Agricultural Department includes the Reference Laboratory for Safety Analysis of Food of Animal Origin; the Central Laboratory for Food & Feed; the General Organization for Veterinary Services and Egypt's Biosafety system and committee. The Ministry of Industry concerns itself with food safety through the standardization of food commodities; the Ministry of External Trade with food control activities for import and export and the Ministry of Supply with food inspections at local market level. The passing of one basic food law for Egypt is currently under review.
In consideration of the complexity of food production; marketing and distribution systems, the multidisciplinary nature of problems of food safety and quality are best addressed at the multi-jurisdictional government levels, and at the international level through the intergovernmental fora of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) and its committees. At national levels, the administration of `integrated' food control systems is considered to be the best structure to meet challenges related to food safety, operating as the interface between Government and the various stakeholders. In consideration of the limited function of traditional food systems, developing countries are encouraged to increase their level of participation in Codex work to benefit from the interaction with other countries on issues related to food safety and consumer protection. The FAO/WHO publication, Assuring Food Safety and Quality: Guidelines for Strengthening National Food Control Systems which presents these views will shortly become available.
The International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) supports sustainable development through its involvement in risk management and capacity building involving all refrigeration stakeholders. The establishment of reliable cold chains is recommended with the introduction of Maximum Recommended Temperatures (for food storage and distribution), the use of air-temperature measuring instruments in the improvement of cold chains and implementation of temperature traceability. Stricter monitoring of interfaces between links in the cold chains and of measures governing foods prone to contamination with psychrotrophic bacteria are also recommended, as is incorporation of the HACCP approach for training food safety regulators in good refrigeration practice (and vice versa). The IIR is currently revising the Code of Practice for the Processing and Handling of Quick Frozen Foods of the Codex Alimentarius (Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme) as requested by FAO.
The paper describes the national food control and inspection system and its objectives. This control programme is focused on all imported foods. Conformity assessments are carried out not only on aspects relating to importation/exportation documentation, standard requirements but also on sanitary characteristics (food safety) of foodstuffs (microbiological quality, chemical and biochemical safety etc.). Food industries within the country are subject to regular inspection. In practice, frequency is highly variable and often less than the legal provision of once a year. In 2001, a National Health Laboratory Study showed that 80% of samples taken in small-sized food industries and restaurants did not conform to microbiological standards. However, approximately 10% of all food samples and 23% of water samples were not satisfactory in terms of physico-chemical or bacteriological standards. The paper stressed the importance of educational programmes of food handlers and consumers, through the national network of NGOs and radio-television programmes. Human resources involved in food control and inspection are few, relative to the national area requiring coverage, thereby resulting in insufficient controls of food imports. It is also noted that food contamination is reported from street-vended foods delivery points (gargotes) that are under the decentralized hygienic supervision of municipalities.
This paper outlines the application in New Zealand of a risk-based approach to food safety. It focuses on four key areas within the overall system in place in New Zealand: the roles within the government's regulatory model, the risk management framework, legislation, and measuring the regulatory system's performance. The New Zealand government has taken a partnership approach with food operators, assisting sectors to develop the tools they need to meet the mandatory outcome standards. These include templates and codes of practice to assist operators to implement HACCP-based systems and risk management programmes. The approach has proven successful in contributing to the overarching goal of the food safety regulatory system by ensuring that food reaching the consumers is safe and fit for consumption. The challenges for the future are to further expand application of this approach across the entire food sector and to measure performance of the system.
The paper describes the national Codex Alimentarius structure in place in Senegal since 1983. The national food standardization policy is implemented within the Standardization Institute of Senegal (SIN) soon to be replaced by the Senegalese Association of Standardization (ASN). The focus of the new agency is to promote quality and develop quality marks for national products to be exported through certification. It will also implement anti-dumping measures and carry out the control of those standards which are being elaborated of mandatory application by law. The industry and private sectors are to be closely associated to ASN activities as well as consumer associations. The paper gives details regarding national bodies involved in quality management in Senegal. It is recommended that there be a) a standard harmonization be initiated taking those of the Codex Alimentarius as a reference in terms of food quality control; b) reinforcement of capacity building of national institutions (human and material resources), a laboratory network at national, regional and international levels; c) usage of harmonized methods of analysis and sampling; d) consumer information and education programmes; e) interaction and partnerships between public administration and private sector to establish a national quality cultural identity; f) creation of national food safety monitoring committees; g) support for the participation of national food safety regulators to international fora sessions, including Codex Alimentarius; h) focus prioritised on food import control in order to better ensure consumer protection in Senegal.
Slovakian food legislation consists of the Food Act (No. 152/1995) on the basis of which individual directives of Slovakian Food Codex (approved by the Ministries of Agriculture and of Public Health) have been adopted. The Food Act controls food products through the Slovakian Veterinary and Food Administration which functions in cooperation with the Food Research Institute. The National Environment Monitoring Programme (launched 1992) includes the Partial Information System on Food Contaminants (PIS FC) which receives data from the Monitoring of Contaminants in the Food Chain (MCFC), with reliable analytical results guaranteed by the Center for Analytical Quality Insurance (AQA). PIS FC, MCFC and AQA are localised at the Food Research Institute which is responsible for their management and performance. The Slovak Republic bases its approach to risk management on the principles of the EU rapid alert system. A total harmonization of food legislation in line with EU food legislation is expected by the end of 2002.
In Sweden the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed has been prohibited since 1986. Anti-microbials may only be added to feed for veterinary purposes, and always subject to veterinary prescription. When antibiotics were withdrawn from animal feed in 1986 there were no noticeable effects on calves and fattening pigs. There were, however, initially effects on piglet and chicken health, resulting in an increased therapeutic use of antibiotics. Through various measures the health problems in pig and chicken production were largely solved within a few years and the therapeutic use of antibiotics decreased. Since 1988 animal health has constantly improved and the use of antibiotics for animals has decreased. The total use during 2001 was 34 percent of use during 1984.
Enter-net is the international network for the surveillance of human gastrointestinal infections, which monitors salmonellosis and Verocytotoxin producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) O157. It involves all 15 countries of the European Union, plus Switzerland and Norway and is funded by the European Commission. International travel and international trade in food play an important role in the occurrence of foodborne infections. Events in one country now have the potential to affect many others. A co-ordinated international response is required to control this threat. Through recognition of outbreaks and investigation, timely exchange of information between experts in different countries can lead to effective international public health action. Exchange of data internationally can help eliminate potential vehicles of infection allowing authorities to concentrate their resources more effectively. For instance, if a rise in infection occurs only in one country it is likely that the source is in that country and not a result of imported goods.
The existing US scheme of food safety responsibilities, involving the Food and Drug Administration, US Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies, is based on laws and regulations that place responsibility for safety on those that produce, process, transport and store the food. In 1997, a new initiative to revamp the regulatory approach extended its scope throughout the food chain entitled, "From Farm to Table." The initiative was needed to address significant outbreaks of foodborne illness and increasing international trade, and was based on extensive consultation with all stakeholders. Actions that were taken to prevent and respond to foodborne illness involved improved recognition of foodborne illnesses and outbreaks; establishment of an outbreak response team; research on new technologies; development of good agricultural practices; food safety education; and increased federal-state partnerships. As a result, food safety is now seen as a shared responsibility between consumers, industry, and government at all levels with better-understood roles for each. Increased transparency and visibility have brought more resources, higher priority and incentives to implement the initiative.
Agriculture forms the base of the Zimbabwean economy, contributing 45% of export earnings and providing livelihood to over 70% of the population. Food safety is a problem of public health concern and is indicated by recurrent outbreaks of food related diseases. Food control is the responsibility of various government ministries and local authorities. Food control administration is weak due to fragmentation, inadequate resources and limited skills for food inspection. This paper highlights the major food safety challenges faced by Zimbabwe and the contributions through technical co-operation towards the establishment of a comprehensive food control system in Zimbabwe. The technical co-operation project funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization laid the foundation for the establishment of a National Food Control Authority, established policies and procedures for food import inspection and improved quality systems at the Government Analyst Laboratory which is in effect the National Food Control Laboratory.