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World Food Safety Day/ Eritrea debates ways to improve national food control systems


Eritrea has celebrated World Food Safety Day for the second consecutive year, this year. The Eritrean Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) organized a commemorative observance with the participation of representatives from ministries, regional administrations, national associations, higher educational institutions, the country offices of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), stakeholders of development programmes, agriculture experts and food processors.

The ceremony took place on 7 June at the National Confederation of Eritrean Workers’ headquarters Hall, and involved food safety-related paper presentations and a panel discussion. Professionals from the MoA, Ministry of Marine Resources (MoMR), Ministry of Health (MoH), Hamelmalo Agricultural College (HAC) as well as a representative from food processors in Eritrea participated in the sessions.

Mr Tekleab Mesgena, the Director General of the Regulatory Services Department at the MoA and the Focal Person of Codex Alimentarius in Eritrea, delivered a key note speech and said the theme of the day draws due attention to any food incidence, regardless how big or small it might be, and that food safety is a shared responsibility. In his speech, he outlined the current food safety situation in Eritrea, explaining that it is affected by several foodborne pathogens, such as E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Brucella, which take advantage of weak immune systems, especially in infants, the infirm, the pregnant and the elderly. Reports of the MoH indicate that foodborne diseases increased by 21 percent from 2010 to 2018. Nonetheless, death rates due to foodborne disease decreased by 50 percent over the same period. Mr Tekleab also recalled that excessive pesticide use is a problem in Eritrea, which is being addressed through corrective measures and public awareness campaigns conducted by the MoA to reverse the situation.

Eritrean authorities plan to create a platform for exchanging ideas among them so that the national food control system can be taken to a new level through

  • Strengthening collaborative efforts among government institutions that are key players in the national food control system
  • Carrying out awareness-raising efforts to instil that food safety is a shared responsibility
  • Establishing coordinated national food control system, including preparation of national food regulatory frameworks on food.

Dr Nonso Ejiofor, representing the WHO office in Eritrea, highlighted the need for policy makers, concerned multi-sectorial bodies, food operators and consumers to enhance coordinated actions and adherence to monitoring standards on food safety. Mr Siyum Teame, on behalf of the FAO representative in Eritrea, said that FAO has also been supporting the MoA’s Regulatory Services Department, as the national Codex Contact Point, in keeping its standards, and that the organization has a plan to collaborate in assessing the food control systems in the country.

During the event, senior experts from the MoA, MoMR, MoH and Hamelmalo Agricultural Collage (HAC) presented a total of six papers namely:

  • “Food Safety from Farm to Table,” presented by Mr Awet Russom, from the Regulatory Services Division (RSD), MoA
  • “Food Safety and Livestock Production,” presented by Mr Kahsay Negash, from the Agricultural Extension Division (AED), MoA
  • “Food Testing at the National Animal and Plant Health Laboratory,” presented by Mr Dawit Mesfin, from the National Animal and Plant Health Laboratory (NAPHL), MoA
  • “Food Control for Ensuring Safety and Quality of Fish Products in the Ministry of Health,” presented by Mr Yonas Kiflay from the MoMR
  • “Roles of Higher Education and Research Institutes in Food Safety: Experiences from Hamelmalo Agricultural College,” presented by Mr Bereket Abrha, lecturer in HAC
  • “Food Safety and Disease Control: Experiences from the Ministry of Health,” presented by Mr Mekonen Fsehaye from the MoH.

Following the paper presentations, a panel discussion moderated by Mr. Adib Abdu, a senior journalist from the Ministry of Information, was conducted.

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World Food Safety Day events this year


Photo © Ministry of Agriculture Eritrea