Food safety policy in 9 African countries
Introduction Millions of smallholder farmers, many of them women, supply the rapidly growing markets for livestock and fish products in Africa and Asia. In sub Saharan Africa, more than 80% of animal products are sold through informal markets, which lack structured sanitary inspection and are often of ambiguous legal position. Historically food policy has either ignored or been hostile to the informal sector; more recently understanding is growing that the informal food sector can have an important role in supporting livelihoods and improving accessibility to affordable, nutritious foods. Methods A consortium of African and German research institutes conducted a series of food safety policy analyses in 9 countries (Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Ghana, Cote d?Ivoire and Mali). The research team in each country was composed of experts from research, education, extension and regulatory organizations with access to public sector documents and procedures. Data were collected from published and unpublished literature, and through a structured questionnaire survey administered by holding consultations with key stakeholders in public and private sectors related to assurance of safe livestock products. The focus of the study was: food safety governance (stakeholders, regulations, inspection); animal source value chains; reported and perceived food safety problems; and, national priorities around food safety. Findings and interpretations In most countries either no regulatory measures/infrastructure are in place to assure food safety in informal markets, or the regulations are derived from industrialized countries and are anti-poor and unworkable. Typically, multiple institutions have mandates for food safety through various regulations or acts targeted to various stages and activities in the food chains. Some important public health hazards are believed to be common in food but few are regularly surveyed; the actual status of many important health hazards is unknown. Most food in the traditional/informal sector is not inspected. Where some inspection occurs, it does not follow a ?farm to fork pathway? approach. In South Africa only, are quantitative and qualitative risk assessments applied. There is a lack of systematic, risk-based surveillance and inspection, lack of infrastructure and laboratory facilities, and lack of skilled manpower and appropriate risk analysis tools. In countries studied, food safety policy and implementation is not well suited to: ensuring the safety of animal source foods in informal markets; supporting the livelihoods of the poor farmers and value chain actors; or, enhancing nutrition of poor consumers. Recommendations are made for more appropriate policies based on ?participatory risk analysis?
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