CI’s Head of Africa Onica Makwakwa looks at the work CI Members are doing around food safety on the continent
On a continent where
food security is still a challenge due to limited availability and high cost, food
safety may not be prioritised but it is integral to achieving food
The recent meat-label
scandal, especially in the Southern Africa region, has highlighted just how
misunderstood food safety is in a region where food insecurity, political
instability, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other major concerns compete for
government attention and priority.
As such, many African
countries are yet to prioritise the regulatory infrastructure required to
ensure ‘access to nutritionally adequate and safe food as a right to each
individual’ as articulated in the World Declaration on Nutrition.
therefore, play a pivotal role in advocating on behalf of consumers and holding
those in the food value chain accountable for food safety as well as food
CI Members on the
continent are doing their part to raise awareness about food safety. For
example, in Namibia, Michael Gaweseb, executive director of CI Member Namibia ConsumerTrust,
facilitated the testing of meat from supermarkets, raising awareness among officials
and consumers alike when they found
undisclosed meats including kangaroo in some processed meat products.
While in South
Africa, Thami Bolani, CEO of CI Member Consumer Fair, continues to lead the media and public outcry
on the growing meat-labelling scandal which is now being investigated by the
National Consumer Commission.
Contamination of food
-- as demonstrated in the case of aflatoxin contamination -- is another big safety
issue which also has repercussions on scarcity.
Aflatoxins are poisonous
mycotoxins that are produced by toxic fungi affecting crops in the
field and during storage thus making them unsafe for human and livestock
consumption. In Africa, aflatoxin contamination is a major cause of
post-harvest losses and constitutes a significant threat to food security and
livelihoods. Indeed, aflatoxins are a major public health challenge throughout
Richard Henry Kimera,
chief executive of CI Member Consumer Education Trust (CONSENT)
in Uganda, joined me at a Strategy
Development-Stakeholder Consultation Workshop for the African Union on Partnership
for Aflatoxin Control in Africa.
Kimera is a voice for consumers with his advocacy and consumer
education on aflatoxins in Uganda.
contamination affecting food safety and subsequently food security in most of
sub-Saharan Africa, it is imperative that we draw upon existing research and
the work conducted by CONSENT and other consumer organisations in the region to
further identify and develop the necessary regional expertise on aflatoxin
To join our dialogue
on aflatoxin control and other emerging issues of importance to consumer
organisations in Africa, please join our new Facebook group. If you already
have a Facebook account, you can find us here: www.facebook.com/groups/afroconsumers.
(If not, you will need a Facebook account to join this group.) This is a
closed group, therefore, to join you need to send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org or search and request to join via Facebook.
Looking forward to connecting and sharing