This graph shows the number of Food Safety certifications (IFS, FSSC22000 and BRC) in Africa, Latin America, Germany, Italy and India. As it can be seen, Italy leads with more than 7 thousand certifications followed up by Germany with around 6 thousand, while India has approximately 2 and a half thousand. Latin America registers 4 thousand certifications whereas Africa has a bit more than India. Italy alone has more than twice the number of certifications compared to Africa. In order to understand the gaps in numbers figure 1 illustrates how big Italy (green) is in comparison with Africa.
Why has then the African continent lagged behind?
Firstly, Africa lacks food safety management capacity (Jaffee, 2020) which refers to:
- human capital (basic knowledge, specialized expertise, management, leadership as well as communication skills)
- physical infrastructure (safe storage, cold chain, sanitary facilities, processing equipment and laboratory capacity)
- management systems (enterprises, regulatory agencies, laboratories).
Assessments have been undertaken by WHO to evaluate the capacity within Africa based on indicators for food safety. The findings can be seen in figure 3.
This study shows a five-point scale where (1) indicates no capacity whereas (5) shows sustainable capacity. Out of the 47 countries assessed most of them registered low scores between 1 and 2, meaning there is a lack of capacity. Only Seychelles scored highest rank for food safety, while Mauritius and Morocco received a score of 4. (Jaffee et al., 2020)
Secondly, there is a lack of information regarding the importance of Food Safety and motivation for compliance due to political instability, diseases, natural catastrophes, corruption, food insecurities and other factors that are primordial to African governments. Therefore, the correct holistic approach to food safety could not be adopted. Furthermore, there is deficiency in knowledge and expertise. Several Food Safety authorities were unable to enforce the legislation due to lack of international regulations (CODEX) or inspection mechanism (expertise and physical infrastructures) in most countries. In many African countries the implementation of HACCP in food production companies is not applied as the majority are informal small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which operate outside of Food Safety regulations or any formal system. (Oloo et al.,2018)
Nonetheless, small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) are increasing as the urbanization trend is growing and the middle class is forming. The retailers ask for high quality and safe food, hence they put pressure on SMEs and seek producers who are able to meet food safety standards. However, the smallholders and SMEs cannot afford the high cost of compliance and thus are dominated by larger players and by the two-tier system with safe and high-quality food for export and lower standards for the domestic informal market. (Manning et al., 2019, Whitworth, 2021)
Therefore, information regarding the importance of Food Safety is crucial as well as knowledge on Food Safety compliance. Likewise, investments in Food Safety management capacity are critical in order to apply this understanding. Yet, changes have been registered and the urge to improve has been seen. The African Union Commission is working towards regional harmonisation of regulatory standards in the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as well as capacity building. Moreover, many African nations are designing new legislations and regulations which better reflect the food safety needs. (GFSP, 2019; Oloo et al., 2019)
iMIS Food Global enhances Food Safety and works towards food security
Emerging countries with poor infrastructure and weak food legislation framework can benefit from private standards in terms of designing and implementing food safety management systems. Furthermore, the compliance with private standards in these countries creates and facilitates access to global markets. (Manning et.al, 2019) However, it can be argued that smallholders and SMEs cannot afford to comply with these standards due to high financial costs and lack of knowledge. (Manning et al., 2019, Oloo et al., 2019; GFSP, 2019)
Importance of certification:
- Access to regional and global markets
- HACCP implementation
- FSMS implementation
- Less food loss due to quality system
‘’There is no food security without food safety.’’ (FAO, 2019)
Food Safety is embedded in Food Security. (GSP 2019, FAO, 2019) Food Safety threats cause loss of food and thus waste of natural resources. (FAO, 2019)
Furthermore, Food Safety is directly linked to achieving many SDGs such as: SDG 1 (end poverty), SDG 2 (end hunger), SDG 3 (good health and well-being), as well as it contributes indirectly to SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities). (Jaffee et al., 2019) Hence, sustainability was addressed by QAssurance. QAssurance wants to enhance Food Safety in African emerging countries by iMIS Food Global Implementation and Food Security Partnership Program.
Firstly, the implementation of iMIS Food Global in African emerging countries will have an environ-mental impact. Food loss and waste will be mitigated through proper quality management. Improving Food Safety and quality along the supply chain yields less losses in terms of food and natural resources. Secondly, the food supply will benefit from the access to global markets and trade. Lastly, it will address some social aspects through improving nutrition and health amongst people by ensuring safe and high-quality food products in the agri-food chains.
FAO (2019), The future of food safety. There is no food security without food safety.
Jaffee, S.; Henson, S.; Grace, D.; Ambrosio, M.; and Berthe, F., (2020). Why food safety matters to Africa: Making the case for policy action. In 2020 Annual trends and outlook report: Sustaining Africa's agri-food system transformation: The role of public policies. Resnick, Danielle; Diao, Xinshen; and Tadesse, Getaw (Eds). Chapter 10, Pp. 112-129. Washington, DC, and Kigali: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and AKADEMIYA2063. https://doi.org/10.2499/9780896293946_10
Manning, L., Luning, P.A., Wallance, C.A., (2019), The evolution and cultural framing of food safety management systems – where from and where next? In: Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety. 00,2019. Institute of Food Technologists. doi: 10.1111/1541-4337.12484
Oloo, B., Daisy, L., Oniang’o, R., (2018), Food Safety legislation in some developing countries. In: Food Safety – Some Global Trends. DOI:10.5772/intechopen.75587
GFSP (2019), Food Safety in Africa: Past Endeavors and Future Directions. Appendix E Country activities in food safety [Online available at] https://files.constantcontact.com/d83c7c0d401/084bf2f0-9297-4996-8a15-b956a5f978b3.pdf
Whitworth, J., (2021), IFC highlights challenges for domestic food safety in Africa. In: Food Safety News. [Online available at] https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2021/05/ifc-highlights-challenges-for-domestic-food-safety-in-africa/
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We are a Food Tech firm in Food Safety Compliance. Experts in setting up and maintaining Food Safety Systems for companies in the Food Supply Chain. We are dedicated to breaking down the barriers for Transparency and Trust in the Global Food Supply Chain.
In our Partnership Program we would like to work together with (Non)Governmental Organizations, Universities, Multinationals and Food companies.
iMIS Food Global
iMIS Food Global is a fully equipped Food Safety platform for developing countries. Unique is the installation of an iMIS Food server at the Food company, for online and offline availability.
The online (no travel costs) iMIS Food implementation process includes 6 to 10 days of support and has a lead time of 3 months.