AFRICA – African nations marked World Food Safety Day on June 7, 2024, through various initiatives aimed at raising awareness about food safety and promoting best practices to prevent foodborne illnesses.

The theme for this year, “Food Safety: Prepare for the Unexpected,” underscored the importance of readiness in addressing food safety incidents.

In Kenya, the Ministry of Health called on consumers to adopt safe food handling practices to minimize contamination risks. These practices include covering food to maintain freshness, separating raw and cooked items, ensuring thorough cooking, maintaining safe food temperatures, and using safe water and raw materials.

Kenya’s weeklong celebrations began with the clean-up of Soko Mpya market in Nyandarua County on June 4, followed by a conference from June 5 to 7 at Safari Park Hotel.

The event culminated in a hybrid commemoration on June 7, bringing together senior government officials, private sector alliances, and development partners.

Principal Secretary for Public Health, Mary Muthoni, emphasized the close link between food safety, nutrition, and food security, noting the various challenges Kenya faces, such as aflatoxin contamination and pesticide residues.

In Nigeria, the Lagos Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) organized a series of advocacy events. These included media appearances, street food safety campaigns in markets, and a webinar on reducing food safety risks.

Collaboration with government agencies like the Lagos State Ministry of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency highlighted the importance of safe food handling practices. Mrs. Kikelomo Amoreoluwa, Vice-Chairperson of NIFST-Lagos, and Mrs. Alaba Idowu from the Street Food Safety Committee, provided insights on preparing for unexpected food safety issues during a radio broadcast.

The events concluded with a webinar featuring speakers such as Joseph Awesu, Founder of Food Doctors Ltd, and Kemi Sulaimon, Director of Lagos State Waste Management Authority, who discussed key topics related to food safety.

In Tanzania, Dr. Ashura Katunzi, Acting Manager of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) Food Risk Assessment, called on food crop traders to enhance production systems to protect public health and access global markets.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam, Dr. Katunzi emphasized the importance of stakeholder participation in ensuring food safety from production to consumption.

She highlighted the government’s initiatives to strengthen the food safety control system, including increased monitoring and coordination. Dr. Katunzi also cited World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, noting that foodborne diseases significantly impact health and economic stability.

Globally, approximately one in ten individuals experience foodborne illnesses annually, with Africa bearing the highest per capita burden of foodborne diseases.

WHO Director of Nutrition and Safety, Dr. Francesco Branca, warned that food safety hazards have no borders, and risks from unsafe food can escalate from local to international emergencies.

He pointed out that conflicts in regions such as Gaza, Ukraine, and Sudan drive food insecurity and compromise food safety, accentuating the need for integrated surveillance systems for animal, environmental, and human health.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) marked World Food Safety Day by releasing new materials as part of the Safe2Eat campaign, which aims to promote food safety awareness among EU consumers.

The campaign, supported by 18 EU Member States, provides guidance and information about the science behind safe food practices.

As African nations and global entities commemorated World Food Safety Day, the collective efforts highlighted the crucial need for preparedness and collaboration in ensuring food safety and protecting public health.

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