How implementation of programme by MESPT aligns to 2021 world food safety action plans

Posted on June, 11, 2021 at 09:26 am

In 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) designated June 7 as the day to raise awareness on food safety at all levels, and to promote and facilitate actions for global food safety on the basis of scientific principles and in line with World Trade Organisation measures.

This year’s theme is “Safe Food Now for a Healthy Tomorrow”, which stresses that the production and consumption of safe food has immediate and long-term benefits for people, the planet, and the economy.

The AgriFI Food Safety Programme, which is implemented by the Micro-Enterprise Support Programme Trust (MESPT), is a European Union (EU)-funded initiative whose focus is food safety (sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards), plant and animal health. The programme’s interventions aim to address the food safety concerns for both domestic and international markets.

The six-year programme (2018 -2023) is funded to the tune of €7 million. Through the programme, MESPT is strengthening capacities of actors along the dairy, horticulture, and aquaculture value chains through the Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ATVET) system approach. The programme also aims at increasing the capacity of private sector and county governments to implement and enforce standards on food safety, plant health and animal health.

Tremendous outcomes have been realised in 13 counties: Nyandarua, Nakuru, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru, Makueni, Machakos, Kilifi, Migori, Kisii, Kakamega and Bungoma.

These include the review of 24 competency-based curricula for dairy, horticulture, and aquaculture (at different levels) to address food safety, animal, and plant health inclusion, and development of training and learning guides customised to the competency-based curricula.

All the 13 counties have also formed County Food Safety Committees (CFSCs), which are now operational. Some of the counties have developed food safety policies, with various officials trained in food safety regulation and enforcement.

Other achievements include development of Standard Assessment Guides (SAGs) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to support relevant value chain actors, and support to agricultural training centres (ATCs) with development of sustainability plans.

Five action plans to keep food safe all the way

This year’s World Food Safety Day calls on governments, businesses, consumers and other stakeholders involved in food systems to promote food safety and to do what it takes to make food safe. The five calls to action are:

  • Ensure it’s safe: Government must ensure safe and nutritious food for all.
  • Grow it safe: Agriculture and food producers need to adopt good practices.
  • Keep it safe: Business operators must make sure food is safe.
  • Know what’s safe: Consumers need to learn about safe and healthy food.
  • Team up for food safety: Work together for safe food and good health.

Incidentally, the AgriFi programme implements initiatives that are well aligned to these action plans, outlined as follows:

1. Ensure it is safe: Government must ensure safe and nutritious food for all.

The AgriFI programme is working with the private sector and county governments to strengthen institutional and legal framework at the county government level to increase their capacity to implement and enforce standards on animal health, food safety, and plant health. All the 13 target counties have established their County Food Safety Committees, which are functional.

On the other hand, the capacity building of the Central Competent Authorities aims at strengthening the agencies to support curricula review and assist county governments to set up the relevant systems and structures that would contribute to addressing the systemic challenges in food safety and plant health nationally and at the county level.

AgriFI is also establishing county-based food safety testing and surveillance systems in all the 13 counties, an intervention that will ensure enforcement of the food safety.

2. Grow it safe: Agriculture and food producers need to adopt good practices

From production to consumption, food safety is a shared responsibility. Result Area 2 of the AgriFI programme aims at strengthening the capacities of actors along selected value chains through the ATVET model. Through the programme, the future of food safety is considered from the farm where growing of food starts.

Good agricultural practices (GAPs) are therefore emphasised for a viable food safety system. GAPs will ensure continuous supply of safe food while minimising environmental impacts and adopting to climate change. Integrated approach on the sanitary and phytosanitary standards to ensure health of plants and animals, prudent use of chemicals in production and preservation, are all geared to ensuring safe food for the final consumer.

3. Keep it safe: Business operators must make sure food is safe.

Food business operators (FBO) are involved in the food supply chain and are required to do their due diligence to ensure the quality and safety of food products within the bounds of their responsibility. This includes implementing in-house controls according to Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP).

HACCP provides a paradigm shift in food control systems and puts the responsibility of food safety with the FBO’s rather than the authorities. The aim is that through the approach, FBOs and authorities will benefit from reduced administrative burdens, more efficient processes and strengthened controls. Consumers will benefit from high standards in food safety, plant health, animal health and feeds.

To showcase this approach, AgriFI has rolled out a holistic concept for strengthening wet markets to make the environment supportive to FBOs. The FBOs in the wet markets are required to implement and comply with hygiene requirements and the safety of food sold in the market, which encompasses all levels of the farm-to-table continuum. FBOs must have the required licenses and certifications as per the CCAs regulations, including premises and handlers’ licenses and certifications

4. Know what’s safe: Consumers need to learn about safe and healthy food 

The right to be free from hunger and have adequate food of acceptable quality is provided under Article 43 of the constitution of Kenya, which gives consumers the power to drive change. Given the complexity of food safety, consumers need access to timely, clear, and reliable information about the nutritional and disease risks associated with their food choices. Through an effective working relationship with the food industry, including producers, processors, and purveyors of food, AgriFI continues to support partnerships for proactive food safety education. The partnerships have so far fostered an active network of 465 trained Trainers of Trainers (ToTs) who are equipped with tools they can use to educate people about protecting their health through safe food practices including hygiene.

5. Team up for food safety: Work together for safe food and good health

The responsibility of ensuring the safety of food lies with all stakeholders, including government agencies, policymakers, producers, businesses, consumers, civil society organisations, academic and scientific institutions. While each of these stakeholders has specific responsibilities and accountabilities, the multi-dimensional nature of food safety and quality make their roles highly interconnected and interdependent.

In July 2017, competent authorities drawn from the government agencies teamed up to develop and commit to the Kenya Multi-Annual National Control Plan (MANCP). 

The MANCP is a flexible quality assurance system for the control of food, feed, animal, and plant health including phytosanitary matters. The plan promotes active collaboration among the stakeholders at both the national and county levels involved in the food chain, therefore indispensable to ensure effectiveness.

On January 21, 2021, all competent authorities regulating food in Kenya agreed on implementing new Principles of Food Inspection as an integral part of MANCP. The common principles of inspection form part of the new food control system implemented by the Kenyan government in partnership with Denmark’s Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. The approval of the principles was followed by training of 90 food inspectors in Nakuru and Nyandarua counties by MESPT.

Source: Nation