Managing Food Safety and Quality in Small-Scale Food Processing for Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) Value Chains in Sub-Sahara Africa training workshop took place on 4th – 8th of December, 2017 at the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya.
The training was attended by 27 participants (15 men and 12 women) from 11 countries. Participants came from Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi, DRC, Cameroon and Tanzania. They also come from various sectors including government, academia, private-sector (food processors), non-profit organizations and religious organizations.
The objective of the training workshop was to enhance compliance to food safety regulations by small scale enterprises involved in RTB processing in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The actors gained skills and knowledge from the training important in addressing food safety challenges that arise from lack of compliance to good Hygiene and Manufacturing Practices.
The training was opened by Dr. Josephine Birungi, the Deputy Director/Technology Manager at the Biosciences for eastern and central Africa (BecA) who gave a brief introduction to BecA-ILRI, highlighting the core activities carried out by BecA. Over the course of five days, different topics were discussed by several facilitators covering food safety considerations during processing and development of products, food safety regulations, food safety issues and their implications and food hygiene and nutrition activities. There was a panel discussion which was facilitated by Dr. Tawanda Muzhingi on Food Safety and Legislation in Africa; covering the role of Bureaus of Standards, challenges and strategies to register a new product encountered mostly by small and medium enterprises in Africa.
The training was facilitated by Dr. Richard Fuchs. He Principal Scientist: Food Safety Specialist and Programme Leader – MSc Food Safety and Quality Management at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich, United Kingdom. The training was an introductory course leading to Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH-UK) Level 2 award in Food Safety and Hygiene which constituted topics such as an Introduction to Food Safety, Microbiological Hazards, Contamination Hazards and Controls, Food Poisoning and its controls, Personal Hygiene, Design of Food Premises and Equipment, Cleaning and Disinfection, Food Pests and Control and Food safety Management. Another key note speaker was Dr. Matthew Jon Stasiewicz, an Assistant Professor of Applied Food Safety, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.
The workshop experience was also enriched by contributions from Dr. Andrew Edewa formerly Africa Union Food Safety Officer and now with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Kenya office. Andrew gave an overview of the Food safety issues at continental level in Africa. Mr. Antonio Magnaghi the Food Application Director at Euro-Ingredients Limited gave a lecture on food safety in processing plants, kitchens, equipment considerations and during product development using Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato examples. Dr. George Ooko Abong from the University of Nairobi’s Food Science Department impressively taught on the current efforts on the Food Standard development on roots and tuber crops in Kenya and also highlighted the food safety scene in Kenya. Ms. Victoria Mwenda, Nutrition Sector Coordinator with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)-Kenya office lectured on Environmental Enteric dysfunction (EED), a subclinical inflammatory disorder of the gut, is also highly common among impoverished inhabitants of environments with poor sanitation and hygiene, such as those often found in developing countries such as Kenya and brought to life the UNICEF conceptual framework on the cause of malnutrition.
Participants visited BecA nutrition and Food safety platforms where they were introduced to the facilities in which research on food safety and nutrition is carried out. Some of the food safety research carried out in BeCA include; the analysis of mycotoxins in food and feed, microbial analysis of food products especially sweetpotato roots and sweetpotato products, nutritional analysis of food products including proximate analysis, vitamin C determination, antioxidants and β-carotene among others. Dr. George Okoo Abong, facilitated of the Food Processing Pilot plant at the University of Nairobi so that participants could translate theory into practice. Participants then visited pilot plant at the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Technology, University of Nairobi. This is small enterprise which is mostly used by students in the same department for practical purposes. The plant is involved in the production of both meat and dairy products that are sold at the university institutions. The products include; yogurt, Mala, ice-cream, cheese and bacon among others.
Each participant presented a summary of the work on the roots, tuber and banana value chains. The participants were groups according to their crop interests. Participants were then introduced to the UK’s Safer food, better business (SFBB) program which helps small businesses with food safety management procedures and food hygiene regulations. Working in groups participants developed their own food safety management systems using the different roots, tubers and banana value chains.
The main lessons learnt was that this kind of trainings on Food Safety, Food Processing and WASH are important at national level especially in Kenya at county level. Future training should also actively seek government and country officials in order to have a bigger impact. Food safety issues are universal and affect both poor and industrialized countries. These training will help CIP and partners contribute effectively to the attainment of SDGs by promoting the consumption of nutritious and safe foods.
Major lessons learnt was that safe and nutritious foods are essential for nutrition sensitive value chain development. FAO, and UNICEF recommended the training be opened up to government and other food safety players such as bureau of standards and donors. BecA ILRI Hub were impressed with the quality of the training and its relevance to CGIAR, they want another training next year and also bring in A4NH CRP and One Health consortium.