This was at a WFP retreat that brought together external partners and experts in academia, government, international and continental organizations, and UN sister agencies.
The retreat provides an opportunity to build bridges around food safety and quality, identify opportunities for joint efforts, and establish strategic collaboration and technical approaches considering the challenges of the specific context of Africa.
In order to assist continental and national efforts to improve food systems from a food safety and quality viewpoint, it also aims to build and strengthen networks for ongoing collaboration and knowledge sharing.
While flagging off the retreat, Mrs. Virginia Siebenrok, Chief Food Safety, and Quality, WFP, echoed the significance of a harmonized food system due to the ever-changing nature of food safety.
“The risk and emerging risks are different depending on where we find ourselves,” she said.
Food safety is one of the corporate risks in the WFP, according to Mrs. Siebenrok, and it has become crucial to incorporate it in risk assessments and risk registers in various WFP operations.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, Africa accounts for 142,000 of the annual global foodborne illness deaths, which affect over 91 million people there each year.
32,000 of the total deaths that were reported were primarily in children under the age of five, and 70% of these were due to diarrheal illnesses brought on by non-typhoidal Salmonella in Children.
Mrs. Siebenrok commended Ghana for its outstanding food safety practices, which had set the bar for other countries and featured some intriguing and creative approaches to problem-solving.
As the food is bought locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally, Ms. Barbara Tulu Clemens, the Country Director WFP-Ghana, stated that food safety and quality remained the WFP’s top concerns.
For this reason, she continued, the WFP is working with regional producers to create safe and wholesome foods for program participants.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Roderick Kwabena Daddey-Adjei, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), stated that food and nutrition were crucial for a dignified living, a thriving community, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
In an effort to assure food safety, he said that the authority had created a food safety policy and a progressive licensing program that supported regional enterprises in their efforts to produce food items under hygienic conditions.
At the end of the two-day meeting, WFP expects to foster strategic collaboration and dialogue among key stakeholders in food safety and quality in the continent and review current actions and strategies related to food safety and quality improvement in Africa, with a focus on strategic areas of alignment and complementary intervention.
It also aims to address some of the burning and challenging topics for food safety and quality in Africa, such as the aflatoxin control and management strategy, as well as impact of the climate change, and security issues.