FOOD SAFETY AND FOOD CONTROL SYSTEMS

Food safety is receiving much attention in the global level as its necessity crosslinking between food and health gaining momentum across the world. As food safety improvement is an unavoidable element in the campaign, work and progress towards food security. As food trade is expanding across the world, food safety has become a shared concern among both the developed and developing countries. Enhancing food safety, is vital to improving the health and nutrition of the consumers, an SDG 2 goal. Improving food availability does not only benefit those at nutritional risk without correspondence to improvements in the nutritional quality and safety of food as there is reduced food- borne illness and disease. In order to addressing food safety, developing countries should evaluate investments in the overall scope of public health, nutrition and food systems policies.

Food control is the compulsory regulatory activity of enforcement by the authorities to provide consumer protection and ensure foods are safe during production; handling; storage; processing; distribution and fit for human consumption.

THE FOOD SAFETY ISSUES

Every consumer is always on the lookout when purchasing food. The food safety concerns plays vital role in the consumer health and that is why nobody would wish to consume unsafe/unhygienic food. Currently global food production has been consolidated with troubling results. This is due to the takeover of the food industry by dominant multinational organizations resulting to the shift in focus of food production. Increase in food industry competition has seen diversion in the industry to profitability over quality.

Some of the most important food safety issues of concern include:-

  • Food borne illnesses
  • Food contaminants
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Pesticide residues
  • Environmental effects

ROLE OF GOVERNMENT, FOOD PRODUCERS, MARKETERS, CONSUMERS AND ACADEMIA

GOVERNMENT

Every level of government in any country has a role to play in ensuring safety and quality of food. At the national level, the government has international responsibilities in regard to bi-lateral trade to and from other countries.

The policy makers and food control agencies must make sure that adequate food control legislation are in place to enable control of all food risk factors as well as consumer protection. The laws in place should be in place to meet the requirements of current food risks needs and not be detailed to be incomprehensible; or scattered among rules and other policy documents so that there be transparency and easy understanding of the rules.

In addition, the government is also responsible for adequate funding of the pre-market approval process and monitoring operations that are designed to make sure that the food legislate needs are met.

FOOD PRODUCERS

With the continual increase in the world’s population and urbanization, food chains and webs have been increasingly complex. Thus; assuring food safety and quality calls for adequate knowledge and ability by all food business players to meet and exceed the basic food safety laws. However, this requires the creation and implementation of food quality systems that ensure basic composition, nutritive value and safety of food.

Every food producer is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring safe end products at the table of the consumer. Right from ingredients used, how produced is handled, product packaging, distribution and marketing should be the core main concern of any food producer.

MARKTERS / DISTRIBUTORS

How a produced is handled for marketing/ distribution really determines its safety. How the produced is packed and transported also matters in terms of its safety. How the food is sold or where also has either a positive or negative effect to its safety. Food distributors/ marketers need to be sure of how they present a produce to the consumers. Food products are very sensitive and delicate and if poorly handled at the market and distribution stage the effects would be immerse.

ACADEMIA

The academia has critical role to play in the research into food quality and safety problems. At the primary and secondary school level, approved curriculum   should also include education on the value of foods, importance of balance diets in proper nutrition.

 DEVELOPMENT OF FOOD CONTROL SYSTEMS.

The attainment of food control systems aims requires the knowledge of the current situation and development of national control strategy that are influenced by current or emerging food safety and qualities issues. It is key to examine all the factors that could impinge upon aims and performance of the systems while coming up with the food control strategies.

The governing principles guiding the development of food control systems comprising of:-

  1. Maximizing risk reduction by applying the principle of prevention throughout the food chain.
  2. Addressing the farm-fork continuum.
  3. Establishing emergency procedures for dealing with particular hazards.
  4. Developing science-based food control strategies.
  5.  Establishing priorities based on risk analysis and efficacy in risk management.
  6. Recognizing that food control is a widely shared role that requires positive interaction between all stakeholders.

DEVELOPMENT OF STRATEGY

The preparedness of the national control system allows a country to develop an integrated, coherent, effective and dynamic food control system. This also allows, the determination of priorities that ensue consumer protection.

It should focus on multi-sectorial input and on the need for food security not forgetting consumers’ protection from unsafe adulterated / misbranded food. In addition, the strategy should also take into considerations the economic interest of the country in reference to export/ import trade, development of food industries and the interest of the farmers and food producers.

The strategy is influenced by the country stage of development, economy size and level of sophistication of its food industry.

 The final strategy should include:-

  • Development of appropriate food legislation or revision of the existing legislation to achieve its objectives defined by the national strategy.
  • Development and organization of training programs for food handlers and processors, food inspectors and analysts.
  • National strategy for food control with defined objectives; a plan of actions for its implementation and milestones.
  • Program for strengthening food surveillance and control systems.
  • Promotion of consumer education and other community initiatives.
  • Development or revision of food regulations; standards and codes of practice as well as harmonizing these with international requirements.

The task of food control is shared among the different agencies, where their roles could be different. The key assignment of the food control is to enforce the food law(s) thus protecting the consumers against unsafe, impure and fraudulently presented food by illegalizing sale of food that is not of nature, quality, and substance as quested by the consumer .

BY MS.MERCY LIMBUA

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WHAT IS CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE?

The world has changed and so has climate. In the past years we have experienced dramatic change in climate in line with increasing temperatures, change in rainfall patterns, high levels of carbon emission   and greenhouse gases emissions. The world forest has suffered harm and has continued to face high rates of deforestation.  These changes have seen the world agricultural practices faced challenges in terms of reduced productivity and income.

Climate changed has reduced global yields of maize and wheat by 3.8% and 5.5% respectively.   With temperature exceeding critical physiological thresholds there is a deep decrease in production while increase in climate variability exacerbates production risks and challenges farmer’s coping ability. Climate change is a threat to food access since it reduces agricultural productivity, incomes and also increase risks of disruption to the markets.

Climate smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach aimed at transforming and reorienting the current agricultural systems to support food security under the existing realities of climate change. The  changes in climate has seen agricultural productivity faced challenges for instance the reduced agricultural productivity and increase the vulnerability of the population that depend on agriculture for their live hoods.  These challenges can be overcome by increasing the adaptive capacity to farmers’ resilience and resource use efficiency in the production systems. (Leslie lipper et al).

A good example of the CSA practice is the conservation agriculture which under FAO Kenya and through the leadership of the FAO representative in Kenya, Dr Gabriel Rugalema has seen it adoption in some parts of Kenya and has successful contributed towards increasing agricultural production in the areas for example Makueni where farmers are now enjoying the increase in yields despite the climate threats. What classifies conservation agriculture (CA) as a CSA practice? Under FAO, Conservation agriculture is defined as a farming system that promotes maintenance of a permanent soil cover, minimum soil disturbance and diversification of plant species.CA enhances biodiversity and natural biological processes above and below the ground surface this contributing to increase water and nutrient use efficiency and to improved and sustained crop production.

Climate resilient pathways as channels of CSA focused on four main action points that include:-

  • Building evidence
  • Increasing local institutional effectiveness
  • Fostering coherence between climate and agricultural policies
  • Linking climate and agricultural financing

There is need to fight climate change in Africa as 80% of food production in Africa is climate fed. Meaning 80% of our agricultural production depends on climate which is changing every day. Studies shows that by 2050, 3% of Africa’s land will no longer be able to grow maize and will transition from mixed crop and livestock systems to livestock only farming system. Thus there is need for adaption of CSA practices to safeguard production of food, towards food security.

Currently 20% of the population is under average food insecure with 75% of these population who are also the world poorest are living in the rural areas. It is for this reason that there is need to increase income and productivity as a measure towards eradicating poverty and achieving food security. By the year 2050, 2.4 Billion people are expected to be living in the developing countries thus need for increase in agricultural productivity by 60%.

Climate smart agriculture as an accelerator towards food security serves under three guiding pillars:-

  • Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes.
  • Adapting and building resilience to climate change.
  • Reducing and/ or removing carbon emissions.

CSA appears as an obligatory field-level supplement designated to safeguard agricultural intensifications from climate change impact. The World Bank has integrated CSA into long standing modernization narrative that seeks to  address the problems of the global food system that are largely to be tackled by the increasing supply through liberalization, technological advancement and the diffusion of modern production techniques to the developing world.

On the basis, the framework of a climate – wise food system could seek to put emphasis on:-

  1. Climate change amplifies concerns over access to sufficient and nutritious food thus the acquisition of food distribution becomes critical.
  2. Shift in the consumption patterns are essential elements of the climate-wise food system. The tyranny of consumers’ sovereignty that reflects the embedded power of money as a claim on global resources should not be allowed to dictate it’s dynamic.
  3. The climate-wise food system would be predicated upon strong normative preference for ecological intensification in which biological processes in combination with human labor   productivity advances rather than cheap energy inputs( Tittonell,2014)

 

Like a small baby learning to walk by herself, CSA requires an enabling environment that will see it adoption and implementation a success. The private, public sectors, the civil society organizations needs to give room to: policy and legislation development, program development, review and mainstreaming, promotion, awareness and publicity.

By Ms. Mercy Limbua

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WHY WE NEED TO ACCELERATE NUTRIONAL GAIN IN KENYA

Study done by UNFAO indicates that 795million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world or one in nine were suffering from chronic under nourishment between 2014 and 2016.Almost all the hungry people,780million live in developing countries. There are 11 million people undernourished in developed countries (FAO, 2015).Malnutrition and diet are by far the biggest risk factors for the global burden of disease every country is facing a serious public health challenge from malnutrition .The economic consequences represent losses of 11% gross domestic product every year in Africa and Asia while preventing malnutrition delivers $16 in returns on investment for every $1spent (GNR, 2016). Good nutrition is achieved by consuming foods in adequate quantity and quality and this helps to improve health. When people are healthy they engage in productive activities that improve their quality of life. The growing problem of food and nutrition insecurity in Kenya is linked to the slow growth of agricultural production. Kenya has approximately 80% of its population residing in the rural areas where agriculture dominates. Despite positive agricultural output growth over the last four decades, Kenya has not managed to achieved food self-sufficiency due to the over reliance on rain fed agriculture (98%) which suffers recurrent crop failures due to vagaries of weather and climate change. Over 10million people in Kenya are food insecure. Nutritional trends shows that, nationally 26% of children less than five are stunted (KNBS&IFC, 2015), depicting chronic under-nourishment which remains a serious and a national development concern. Regional disparities in nutrition indicators are significant with the chronically food-insecure in arid and semi-arid areas showing consistently higher levels of acute nutrition.The Kenya National Micronutrient survey conducted in 2011 showed that children under five are particularly affected by micronutrient deficiencies: Vitamin A (9.2%), anemia (26.3%), iron deficiency (21.3%), iron deficiency anemia (13.3%) and zinc (83.3%).The average national per capita calorie supply per day (2000) is less than the FAO recommended rate of 2.200Kcal.Other major constraints to attaining good nutritional status include; inadequate awareness and knowledge on nutritionally adequate diets, and limited resource allocation and capacity to support the implementation of compressive nutrition programs in the country.The immediate causes of malnutrition are inadequate food intake due to food insecurity as well as infections as a result of inadequate healthcare.

 TO THINK ABOUT

Thanks to World health organization for breaking down this facts:-

Access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health.
Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhea to cancers.
An estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420 000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years (DALYs).
Children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year.
Diarrheal diseases are the most common illnesses resulting from the consumption of contaminated food, causing 550 million people to fall ill and 230 000 deaths every year.
Food safety, nutrition and food security are inextricably linked. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, elderly and the sick.
Foodborne diseases impede socioeconomic development by straining health care systems, and harming national economies, tourism and trade.
Food supply chains now cross multiple national borders. Good collaboration between governments, producers and consumers helps ensure food safety

BY MS.MERCY LIMBUA

 

 

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FOOD SAFETY, A PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERN.

Food safety is receiving much attention at the national level as its necessity crosslinking between food and health gaining momentum across the country. In the year 2017, the country was hit by numerous cases of food-borne illnesses and outbreaks, which made headlines all over the news. This brought to light the dwindling state of food safety in many parts of the country. Food safety improvement is an avoidable element in the campaign, work and progress towards food security. From the contraband sugar probe, cat meat in Nakuru, chemically ripened fruits and sewage grown vegetables Kenyans have continued to cry foul over the state of the food they consumed.

There is a variation of perception of how food safety issues relate to national concerns about public health. This is as a result of the varying perspectives arising from varying perceptions and values concerning food safety risk as well as the lack of consensus on who should be accountable for the costs of risk mitigation. Food security is a dependent of the fact that increased food access, and thus arguing that investments in food safety diverts resources from rural development and agricultural production. Enhancing food safety is vital to improving the health and nutrition of the consumers, a sustainable development goal 2. Improving food availability does not only benefit those at nutritional risk without correspondence to improvements in the nutritional quality and safety of food as there is reduced food-borne illness and diseases.

Access to sufficient and safe food is a basic human necessity and essential for creating a country free from hunger and towards achieving poverty reduction in the country as stipulated in article 43 and 21 of the Kenyan constitution. It is the poor who are most exposed and the most vulnerable to foodborne disease risks. Diarrheal, been the most common foodborne illness caused by pathogens as well as other serious consequences that include kidney and liver failure, brain and neural disorders, reactive arthritis and death. Chemical food contamination may cause non-communicable diseases, in particular cancer, as well as affect the reproductive health and the immune system.

Serious outbreaks of foodborne disease reported in the past years, illustrate the public health and social significance of these diseases. A report on “Food safety in Kenya” a study done by International food policy research institute (IFPRI), indicates that food contamination is a likely contributor to the recent cholera outbreak that killed 76 and 3967 people fell ill in the first eleven months of 2017.

However, food-borne illnesses are not the only food safety concerns. How about the unscrupulous business people who are out to gain from food products that they sell at the expense of innocent Kenyans. This trend dates back to April 2016, when Kenya Dairy Board in Nakuru caught scrupulous traders for selling adulterated milk containing hydrogen peroxide with the aim of extending its shelf life and to make it whiter. Moving on to 2017, a lot of cases have been reported all pointing to a number of people using chemicals and toxic element in foods with a general goal, fasten the process of ripening, and profit over a shorter time. Dangerous levels of toxins like calcium carbide, hydrogen peroxide, polychlorinated biphenyl-laden transformer oil, formalin, and lead have been reported from test samples of foods in Nairobi.

The provision and safeguarding of a safe and sufficient food supply are important in the broader context of protecting the people from urgent threats to their health. Ensuring that the food we eat is safe and protected from contamination is an essential element of health security, as it involves ensuring that people are protected from diseases that pass from animals to humans. Food safety is a critical component for sustainable development of our country. Safer food contributes to less illness, and hence increased productivity and improved livelihood. Safe food, conforming to international food safety standards, contributes to increased export, hence, increased income. Food safety is critical to human nutrition and food security. Poor nutrition and foodborne diseases often combine to a vicious cycle of worsening health. Therefore, food safety must be systematically integrated into policies and interventions to improve nutrition and food security.

 

 

BY: MERCY LIMBUA,

ADVOCATE FOR FOOD SAFETY AND FOOD SECURITY .

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WHY INCREASING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IS NOT AN ASSURANCE TO FOOD NUTRITION AND SECURITY

Agriculture and nutrition for a very long time have been stand-alone components. Every aspect of the food system from the farm to fork have influence on the availability and accessibility of safe, diverse and nutritious foods. The growing population of food and nutrition insecurity in Kenya is linked to the slow growth of agricultural production. Kenya has about 80% of its population residing in the rural areas where agriculture dominates. In the last four decades, the country has generally experienced positive growth in agricultural output but has often not managed to attain national food self-sufficiency due to over reliance on rain fed agriculture (98%) which suffers recurrent crop failures as a result of unexpected weather and climate changes not forgetting the fast growing human population. The net deficit of staple foods has been recovered through food imports. Occasionally, Kenya experiences occasional food deficits and in number of cases acute food shortages resulting to reduction of per capita food availability declined by approximately 25% in the past three decades subjecting over 10 million Kenyans to food insecure.

The prices of food have continued to rise as a result of increased oil prices and the increase price of fertilizer and other inputs. However, domestic price fluctuations, in Kenya despite the increase in supply, have still continued to be a problem. One reason is the inability to manage supply and demand cycles distributed across different parts of the country towards ensuring a steady supply throughout the year. For example, parts of Kenya’s Rift Valley experienced grain surpluses in 2011 despite the drought in the northeast. Grain prices dropped as farmers with surpluses faced market access issues to drought stricken areas and many farmers feared wasted product or selling their grain at low prices.

A sudden increase in the supply of agriculture commodities not matched by an equivalent increase in demand will translate to decreased prices in food and agricultural products during the harvest and will leave farmers in debt. The government must therefore address the rule of market sup­ply and demand to control commodity price fluctuations, a long-term component for food security. Short-term emer­gency responses to food security, for example provisions for heavily subsidized inputs, will not address Kenya’s food insecurity problem in the long run and may in fact further distort prices.

 

WHAT WE CAN DO TO INCREASE FOOD AVAILABILITY IN KENYA

1.1 THE ROLE OF THE GOVERNMENT ACCCORDING TO THE NATIONAL FOOD NUTRION AND SECURITY POLICY

In order to promote storage and processing of agricultural produce, including livestock and fisheries products, the Government is expected to:

  • Promote and support safe and effective storage of foodstuffs by the private sector at national, county, community and household levels;
  • Put in place measures that facilitate renting of underutilized public storage facilities;
  • Enhance the capacity of the institutions involved in product development, standards establishment and monitoring of quality.
  • Promote safe, small-scale rural and home processing and preservation of various foods, including livestock and fishery products, grains.

In order to ensure that the country has the ability to respond to critical food emergencies, the Government is tasked with the responsibility of:

  • Transforming the Strategic Grain Reserve into a Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) by including other critical foodstuffs, appropriate to local conditions.
  • Maintaining and substantially increasing the reserve in the form of physical stock and cash, which will support government policies on private sector and market development.

In order to address the challenges climate change pose to food and nutrition

Security, the Government is expected to:

  • Lay emphasis on strategies aimed at enabling local communities to effectively adapt to climate change and reduce impact on food and nutrition security.
  • Institutionalize drought management, by exploring the possibility of creating institutions such as Drought Management Authority and Drought

Contingency Fund that will ensure rapid response to climate change related calamities such as drought in ASAL areas.

  • Adopt a risk management approach which is anticipatory and preventive and not reactive.

2.0. STRATEGIES TO FIGHT POST-HARVEST LOSSES

In Kenya postharvest losses are estimated at 30 % of all stored produce and even higher in areas prone to the Lager Grain Borer and Aflatoxin. on the severity of the outbreak. Stakeholders must therefore be held more accountable and community education on the matter emphasized. Different strategies are required to tackle these wastes for instance public investment in transport infrastructure would reduce the opportunities for spoilage, whereas better-functioning markets and the availability of capital would increase the efficiency of the food chain, for example, by allowing the introduction of low-cost cold storage technologies. Investing in the modernization of extension services is essential, including approaches such as farmer field schools the use of rural radios and other mobile telecommunication method .Research in post-harvest storage technologies is a key strategy to the mitigation of food loss and wastage. Improved technology for small-scale food storage in poorer contexts is a prime strategy for the introduction of incentives for innovation, with the involvement of small-scale traders, millers and producers.

Developing knowledge and capacity for stakeholders involved in food production and supply (farmers, processors, distributors and retailers) will ensure safety standards are adhered to, thus preventing losses associated with disposal of substandard foods as in the one experienced by Kenyan horticultural products in the European market on the basis of incompliance.

Food processing firms should create awareness and promote post-harvest technology, both the traditional and modern methods of food preservation among farmers who produce the raw materials on how to preserve their harvest before it is bought and taken for processing. Such a venture would go a long way in ensuring that all the foods stored in periods of excess produce can be used during the dry season in perfect condition fit for human consumption, free from pests and fungus.

The government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in Kenya has instituted various measures to reduce crop post-harvest losses which include: training of extension staff; training of farmers, partnering with relevant stakeholders; investing in community based storage structures; increasing the area under irrigation; encouraging value addition at farm level to transform the produce to products with a longer shelf life and investing in long term solutions to the challenges of food. Making post-harvest products more competitive in the market through value addition

 

3.0: ROLE OF CONSUMERS

Attitudes and behavior of consumers play a big role in determining the amount of food wasted in households. It is not easy to change the way people consume and throw out food, however, communication campaigns can help influence consumer behavior at the household level. For example proper food labelling and tips associated with improving food storage and lengthening shelf-life.

 

GENERAL RECCOMENDATIONS

Addressing food nutrition and security requires integrated action and complimentary interventions through multi-faced approaches aim at tackling both the immediate and underlying causes in the wider policy domain. In addition, it also requires the involvement of the public and private sector in fighting hunger bearing in mind that improving nutrition is a shared responsibility of all Kenyans. Therefore, need of an effective coordination alongside collaborative planning and programming through multi-sectorial approaches in the county, national and community levels are all necessary to speed up food nutrition and security attainment.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

1.Resource manual for Agri-nutrition in Kenya.

2.How to feed the world in 2050.

3.Strategies to improve food nutrition security in Africa.

4.Food Nutrition Security handling in Kenya

BY: MERCY LIMBUA

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THE BIRTH OF I’M STILL HUNGRY

My passion for food safety and security has way back grown since I witnessed the Kenyans for Kenyans campaign back in July 2011 when Kenya was heavily hunger stricken and it is during this time when as young as I was I vowed my life to saving the food security status of Kenya and Africa at large.
In the process of finding my way to the actualization of my passion and of taking part in the big team that would at one time be the smiling face of Africa, I made a decision to focus on food safety, quality, and security. I believe that food safety and quality have a big role to play in attaining food security. During my third year of study at JKUAT, I took part in an Academia and Research Scaling up nutrition network symposium (Nov 23-24 2016) that took place at Kenya School of Government-Lower Kabete where I
did an abstract presentation on Food Safety and Quality. It is during this time where my interest became broader after listening and learning of how many people not only in Kenya but across the globe are facing food nutrition and security threat and without a clear way of how I will do and with whom my decision was made firm and I took up the challenge to advocate for food safety and security in Kenya and Africa.
I have gone an extra mile in persuading people to focus on agriculture and that agriculture is the future of our growing human population across the globe and that Africa can feed itself through agriculture.
Thank you to Twitter where in the past one year I have channeled my advocacy through my twitter account (@limbua_mercy) with a clear focus on (1. )Pushing for the adoption of good agricultural practices by African farmers. (2.)Sensitizing the public, government officials, industry players, policy makers and regulators on why food safety is a key element for the food security agenda and the general public health. (3.)Sensitizing the public, government officials, industry players on reducing post-harvest losses towards achieving food security. (4.)Pushing for adoption and implementation of food safety policies and regulations by the industry players and government officials.

 As I end, I cannot leave this behind. The vision and mission of I’M STILL HUNGRY is in line with SDG 2”End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. Amongst the many goals under SDG2, it would be my joy to be part of the team that would ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity to adaption to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, and that progressively improve land and soil quality as well as end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular, the poor and people in vulnerable situations including infants, to safe nutritious and sufficient food all year round.

BY: MS.MERCY LIMBUA-FOUNDER



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