AFRICA – In a stride toward enhancing food safety in Africa, the African Food Regulatory Authorities Forum (AFRAF) convened its inaugural meeting in Cairo, Egypt.

This gathering, facilitated by the Africa Union Commission (AUC) and the National Food Safety Agency (NFSA) of Egypt, brought together heads of food safety and regulatory agencies from 37 African Union Member States, alongside major stakeholders and international partners.

At the meeting’s conclusion, participants reached a consensus on a Charter governing AFRAF’s membership and operations.

This Charter outlines AFRAF’s commitment to fostering effective food regulatory cooperation among African stakeholders.

Furthermore, AFRAF is set to act as the General Assembly of the soon-to-be-operationalized African Food Safety Agency (AFSA), marking a significant step toward unified food safety regulation in the continent.

The meeting showcased Africa’s collective commitment to addressing the pressing challenges posed by foodborne illnesses and reaffirmed the region’s dedication to a united approach to food safety.

Africa bears a significant burden of foodborne illnesses, with reports indicating 91 million illnesses and 137,000 deaths annually due to food-related issues.

In response, the AUC has undertaken several initiatives to address these challenges, including proposals to establish an Africa Food Safety Agency, the development of the Africa Food Safety Strategy, and the formation of the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA).

AFRAF stands as a crucial component of these efforts, offering a platform for dialogue, collaboration, and coordinated action among African food regulators.

During the meeting, participants recognized AFRAF as an essential initiative aimed at improving food safety across the continent.

The forum was hailed for its potential to facilitate information exchange, experience sharing, and collaboration among food authorities of African Union member states.

AFRAF also aims to harmonize food regulations in Africa, integrate the food and agri-food sector under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and support the implementation of the Food Safety Strategy for Africa (FSSA) 2022-2036.

Key international partners, including organizations such as United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), World Trade Organization (WTO), World Food Programme (WFP), and the University of Laval, contributed valuable insights during the meeting.

Their expertise emphasized the need for innovative, science-based, and transparent approaches to tackle food safety challenges in the region.

The forum’s collaborative spirit received accolades from various stakeholders, underscoring the importance of coordinated efforts to reform Africa’s food safety systems.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.