Africa’s vast and open land contains some of the world’s largest numbers of livestock, which is well taken care of and utilised, could boost economies and nutrition status of the rising population across the Continent.

However, poor quality animal products including milk and meat weigh heavily on the possibility of Africa becoming a preferred source of animal sourced products to the World, blighting the potential that is increasing, as the demand for protein rises.

In the animal products value chain, many food safety risks arise milking or slaughter or processing preparation stage, storage and distribution of the final products. Chilled or frozen supply chain, vital for the maintenance of animal products in safe and quality conditions, are largely lacking in Africa

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), biological hazards that must be controlled to ensure food safety in animal products include bacteria such as Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter spp. and Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. Others are parasites, viruses and toxins plus important biological hazards. Chemical hazards include veterinary drug residues and chemicals (PCP, dioxins) and environmental pollutants (heavy metals).

Further, there is an increased investment in the animal feed processing capacity in Africa, as the demand for protein grows in the region, and intensive animal husbandry becomes more common. The burden of mycotoxins, including Aflatoxins, Ochratoxins, Fumonisins hangs on the neck of the animal production industry, hindering the realisation of the full potential of the sector.

Recent disease outbreaks, including the 2017/18 case of Listeriosis in South Africa, Avian flu and African Swine fever have shown that the Continent must create mechanisms to prevent and manage disease outbreaks in a better way in order to take advantage of the benefits of the animal industry in the region.

The Questions

How can the regulators contribute to a more vibrant quality and food safety focus by the animal production sector?
How can animal disease outbreaks be managed in Africa? What is the role of the private and public sectors in managing disease outbreaks, and forestalling them from happening in the first place?
What are the technologies that can be deployed to improve food safety in the animal industry supply chain?