Protecting populations in Africa: food security is an important factor

May 21, 2018

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 91 million people in Africa suffer from health problems related to food, causing the death of 137,000 people on the continent each year.

Food safety is a critical public health concern and an important issue in agriculture and economic development. Many agro-industries and food companies present in Africa rely on available local raw materials for production. To ensure a reliable supply of raw materials, they must have access to quality raw materials at a competitive price to meet the growing demand of African consumers who are increasingly concerned about food quality and safety. In situations where these raw materials are not readily available, these companies are compelled to import these raw materials.

Food quality and safety of food on the content is therefore the prerequisite for Africa's food self-sufficiency. In the implementation of a viable food security system in Africa, scientific methods of analysis of manufactured products and agricultural raw materials play a fundamental role.

To discuss this important issue, the Nestle Research and Development Center for Africa, Abidjan hosted participants of a workshop on "The Use of Food Analysis Methods for Regulatory Purposes", from the 25 and 26 April 2018.

This high-level meeting was organised by the Risk Analysis and Food Regulatory Excellence Platform (PARERA) of Laval University, Quebec City, Canada, in collaboration with the Sub-Saharan Africa section of the international reference organization on the selection and validation of food analysis methods "Association of Official Analytical Communities" (AOAC INTERNATIONAL). It brought together experts, scientists and representatives of relevant authorities and partner institutions, involved in food testing for regulatory purposes, in West Africa, particularly in Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria.

This workshop, funded by the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA / FAS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is part of a larger program supported by the United States to strengthen food safety regulatory policies in West Africa. The objective is to promote best practices for food regulatory policies, based on the recommendations of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and its parent organizations, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Agriculture and Food (FAO).

"It is very common for food industry to be disrupted by disputes over analytical results obtained through food control processes. It is essential that the methods of food analysis used in a regulatory framework are be carefully selected, taking into account their suitability for the analytical objectives and obeying validation criteria according to internationally recognized guidelines. This is the only way reliable analytical results can be achieved, leading to regulatory decisions in line with international standards, "said Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Professor of Risk Analysis and Regulatory Policies. Laval University.

"The program of this workshop was designed to allow participants to discuss priorities for harmonizing food analysis practices in West Africa. It focused on important food regional and global safety issues for the region, such as mycotoxin analysis "added Dr Owen Fraser, President of the Sub-Saharan Africa Section of AOAC INTERNATIONAL, Co-Chair of the Workshop and Senior Specialist in Analytical Methods at the Food and Analytical Health Institute of the Nestlé Research Center.

For more information:

Contact

Dr. Owen Fraser, Chair, Sub-Saharan Africa Section of AOAC International, Senior Analysis Methods Specialist, Food Safety and Analytical Sciences Institute Owen.Fraser@rdls.nestle.com

Prof. Dr. Samuel Godefroy, Professor of Risk Analysis and Regulatory Policies, PARERA, Laval University, Quebec, QC. Canada: Samuel.godefroy@fsaa.ulaval.ca