Food safety in low income countries
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Roesel, K., Grace, D., Baumann, M., Fries, R. and Clausen, P.-H. 2015. Food safety in low income countries. Presented at the 15th expert conference on meat and poultry hygiene, Berlin, Germany, 3-4 March 2015. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.
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Population growth, urbanization and increasing consumer demand for products of animal origin couldprovide poor smallholder farmers with income and help alleviate poverty. By 2050 there will be anadditional one billion consumers in Africa alone consuming ever more meat, milk and fish.Today, up to 95% of this food is marketed through traditional or ‘informal markets, that largely escaperegulation and where traditional products and processing dominate. Even as incomes steadily rise indeveloping countries, informal markets are predicted to still meet more than half of the consumers’demand for food by 2040. Most of this food is produced locally by smallholder farmers.There are approximately two billion cases of diarrhea per year of which up to 90% are attributed tocontaminated food and water. Foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases kill an estimated 2.2million people annually, of which the majority are children under five years from Africa and South Asia.Pathogens in perishable foods such as milk, meat, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables are the major cause offoodborne diseases in developed countries, and probably in developing countries too. At the same timethey are the most nutritious foods and their lack in diets contributes to micro-nutrient deficiency inaround 2 billion people annually.One in eight Canadians, one in six US Americans, one in four Chinese and Britons and one in threeGreeks fall ill each year from foodborne disease. Data is lacking from developing countries where theinfrastructure of health care facilities carrying out differential diagnosis and attribution of diarrhea tosource is poor; foodborne diseases are likely to be underreported and its burden is likely to beunderestimated.Participatory methods from social science have been incorporated to the Codex AlimentariusCommission framework for food safety risk assessment for generating data for exposure assessment andrisk characterization. Group discussions with actors in the food chain help understanding the food chain,including production, harvesting, processing, handling and consumption practices. Many of our studiesfound that hazards in the raw product, especially milk, were eliminated through the common practice ofboiling or thorough cooking in Eastern Africa, while cultural groups that traditionally consume raw milk,especially in West Africa are exposed to higher risks of milk borne diseases such as brucellosis, listeriosisand tuberculosis. Also, an initially safe product is often contaminated post-harvest, i.e. with coliforms,due to poor food handling practices. Participatory methods also help prioritizing interventions based onthe most common and most severe foodborne disease in a given community and incorporate indigenousrisk mitigation strategies such as slaughter-on-demand and fermentation.Emerging food safety risks in developing countries include Aflatoxins, antibiotic residues and resistancein food, or other chemical residues.