International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) workshop strengthens food safety network across Africa
Supporting initiatives to improve food safety across the continent has been the subject of a African Workshop on Food Security organized jointly by the IAEA, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA).
More than 280 experts and researchers from food safety regulatory authorities, food testing laboratories, food manufacturers and governmental and non-governmental organizations from 43 countries shared their experiences on key topics, such as prevention of food fraud, monitoring of radionuclides, use of radio receptor testing and stable isotope techniques for residues of veterinary drugs and pesticides, as well as mycotoxins, toxic metals and biotoxins. Participants also discussed responding to foodborne illnesses and disease outbreaks, setting maximum residue limits, and implementing effective food control and surveillance programs.
“This workshop showed the commitment of the African continent not only to increase food security and trade at the national level and in the region, but to support the achievement of several sustainable development goals, including good health and well-being. , industry, innovation and infrastructure as well as ending poverty and hunger,” said Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Division for Africa. “Leaders of the African Union and various stakeholders across the continent discussed cross-cutting food security issues and had a common voice on strategies to support the African Continental Free Trade Area, address food trade discards and ensure consumer protection and food safety”.
During the five-day event held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from June 27 to July 1, 2022, participants discussed the benefits of ISO accreditation for food safety and international trade; ways to collect scientifically reliable data on food risk levels, such as mycotoxins, drug and pesticide residues, persistent pollutants, toxic metals and microplastics; and how to develop laboratory tests and reference materials appropriate to the region, which could enable countries to provide better analytical services.
“We need to strengthen institutional excellence, which would lead to more ISO accreditation for laboratory services,” said Ndwakhulu Mukhufhi, Director General of NMISA. “This can be achieved by sharing relevant reference materials and organizing training programs. Institutions such as NMISA are there to support you.
Participants agreed that there is a need to increase public awareness of food safety across the region. They also agreed that capacities and mechanisms for setting food safety standards should be strengthened, including maximum residue limits, and that it was important to adopt a One Health approach to food safety in Africa.
“Establishing and promoting networks is a top priority,” said Liang Qu, director of the Joint FAO/IAEA Center for Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture. “Networks and events like this provide Member States with a platform to share knowledge and experiences on food security. Leveraging the benefits of nuclear science, the Joint Center will continue to serve as a mechanism to transfer relevant technology, addressing current and emerging food security and trade issues.
The workshop coincided with the launch of the Food Safety Strategy for Africa (2022-2036) by the African Union Development Agency, aimed at improving public health, food and nutrition security, sustainable livelihoods and economic growth. The African Union had already established a roadmap to strengthen the capacities of its member countries in the area of food security in its launch in 2019. Sanitary and phytosanitary policy framework for Africa.
“Mainstreaming the policy and strategy framework into regional economic communities and member states long-term strategies and frameworks is crucial for sustainable financing and implementation,” added Godfrey Bahiigwa, Director of the Department of agriculture and rural development of the African Union.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).