Unsafe foods impact nutrition, better health and improved economic status.

Unsafe foods impact nutrition, better health and improved economic status.

14 October 2015. Multi-Sector Partnerships Drive Food Safety Solutions that Increase Food Availability, Improve Nutrition and Health, and Enhance Economic Status

Organised by: Mars Incorporated; Liberia; Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA); Ghana; Africa Group; FAO; WFP

Food safety is the bedrock essential pillar of food security and nutrition. Without food safety, consumers do not have food! Unfortunately unsafe foods are significant and pervasive global challenges that attack the human faces of nutrition and development in the daily lives of billions of people.

Unsafe foods impact nutrition, better health and improved economic status. Risks abound throughout the food supply chain from production, harvesting, transportation, processing, storage, and manufacturing and at the consumer level. Several key UN facts support these statements
  1. 25% of key food crops are contaminated by mycotoxins, especially from aflatoxins
  2. 4.5 billion people are exposed to contaminated food annually causing high incidences of premature deaths of women, including the highest rates of liver cancer in Sub-Saharan Africaand excessively high rates of childhood stunting; 
  3. 2,000 people die each day in Africa from food safety related problems
  4. diarrhea related to food and water borne infections kills over 2 million adults and children annually more than TB, HIV/AIDS and Malaria; and finally, 
  5. this is not only a developing world problem… 1/6 of the population of the USA had food related health problems in 2011, causing 50 million illnesses, about 3,000 deaths and costing $80 billion. 
The good news is that there are solutions to help solve and manage these safety challenges. However, no single entity can ensure safe food at all times for all people. Industry, which has a storehouse of tools, capabilities and expertise, can be most effective when it participates in multi-sector, multi-disciplinary partnerships with UN agencies, national governments, NGOs and other stakeholders.
Since ICN2 there has been greater recognition and encouragement for expanded private sector roles that are transparent and pre-competitive. 
  • This side-event described progress in implementing the spirit of the Rome Declaration and the Framework for Action though partnerships. 
  • It engaged representatives participating in uncommon public-private-partnerships and collaborations designed to develop solution pathways among the linkages of food security, nutrition and safety. 
  • Panel members described the value of working at scale to help increase access to safer and more nutritious foods; to ensure reliable access to agricultural products through a more reliable, sustainable supply chain; and lessons learned and best practices for partnership building. 
Aflatoxin was also brought up 13/10 during the CFS 42 panel on: Enhancing regional food supply systems and processes to improve nutrition.

video snap shot @ 1:13:45 up to 1:21:28
Question by David Crean Vice President Corporate R and D Mars Inc. (Virginia, USA) about aflatoxin
and food safety :

“Aflatoxin and SDGs” “No single actor can tackle this issue” “Multi sector and multi disciplinary partnerships are the best way to ensure food safety”

Answer of Marc van Ameringen, Executive Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)

“In food safety we are facing a big crisis: somebody explained to me that all that food which is being rejected for aflatoxin in Europe and just gets sold in the market in places like East Africa and elsewhere and it doesn’t get destroyed and that is because we don’t have very strong systems in place in countries to ensure that food safety. We do need to think about what are those structures going to look like going forward. (…) And the private sector should be part of that. But we need to think carefully about how this structure will look like as we deal with more industrialized food available that we don’t have contamination and ensure that not only the rich people can have access to safe food and poor people who are getting safe food is less so. That’s the world we could end up with”

Similar opinions where expressed in the Hague on 21/09/15 by Howard Shapiro of Mars, Inc USA (PAEPARD video interview)


4 – 7 October 2015. First international congress on post-harvest loss prevention. Developing Measurement Approaches and Intervention Strategies for Smallholders.

This congress assessed the challenges associated with postharvest loss within the framework of metrics and measurements. The focus was to enable the development of better tools and interventions to prevent postharvest loss for smallholders in developing countries. The event provided networking opportunities for professionals from academic, governments, non-governmental organizations, foundations, and private entities. This high-level coalition of diverse professionals created a roadmap for postharvest loss prevention by formulating needs and plans for future actions towards a global consensus on measurement and mitigation approaches.

Download and view the complete PDF program (with errata) here.

Speakers from Africa
  • Dr. Willis Owino, Jomo Kenyatta University, Kenya
  • Mr. Innocent Musabyimana, Government of Rwanda
  • Dr. Chemeda Abedeta Garbaba, Jimma University, Ethiopia
  • Dr. Joseph Sherman-Kamara, Njala University, Sierra Leone
  • Dr. Girma Demissie Bekele, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Ethiopia
  • Dr. Yahya Ibrahim Mgawe, Fisheries Education and Training Agency, Tanzania
  • Dr. Hamady Diop, New Partnership for Africa’s Development, South Africa
  • Mr. John Mwarari Macharia, Alliance for a Green Revolution, Kenya
  • Ms. Florence Wallemacq, Indian Ocean Commission SmartFish Programme, Mauritius

Kenya came under scrutiny for what was described as unacceptably high levels of aflatoxin infestation. The congress heard that in some areas, up to 65 per cent of flour is unfit for consumption. To mitigate this situation, mobile solar dryers were billed as an important incentive for producing aflatoxin-safe food. The need to pay farmers premium prices for aflatoxin-safe maize was also broached.

“Aflatoxin has been a major barrier to farmers seeking the international market because of the stringent standards. Farmers (in Kenya and other developing countries) are willing to use technologies to cut post-harvest loss. We need to pull together; working together works,” Mr Michael Scuse, the undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services at the US Department of Agriculture told the gathering.

Kenya’s handling of its vegetables was also in the spotlight, with Dr Willis Owino of Jomo Keyattta University of Agriculture and Technology, reporting that up to 69 per cent of amaranth was lost because of poor handling.

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