News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Friday, July 15, 2011

Participatory risk analysis: A promising approach to improving food safety in sub-Saharan Africa

Pork and beef sellers in Xipamanine Market, Maputo, Mozambique. Participatory risk analysis offers a new approach to managing the safety of informally produced and marketed food in sub-Saharan Africa. (Photo credit: ILRI/Mann)

Most food in sub-Saharan Africa is produced and sold in the informal sector which is an important source of income, employment and livelihood for millions of poor food producers and sellers.

However, several studies have shown that informally marketed food contains high levels of microbial hazards that pose a threat to public health.

In order to appropriately tackle this problem, approaches are needed that focus on the risk to human health and how best this risk can be assessed and managed rather than focusing solely on the presence of hazards.

For example, the common practice of boiling of milk before drinking it kills disease-causing microorganisms, thereby significantly reducing the public health risks posed by the presence of milk-borne pathogens.

Risk analysis, therefore, presents a new approach to managing food safety and the use of participatory methodologies can improve stakeholder engagement and compliance.

Although risk analysis is now widely applied in much of the developed world and forms the basis of food safety guidelines for domestic and international trade, its use in developing countries has been limited.

This is largely because risk-based approaches to food safety have not been appropriately adapted to suit the prevailing situation in developing countries where informal markets dominate and exist alongside formal markets, and capacity to enforce compliance is low.

The collaborative Safe Food, Fair Food project is currently working to improve the management of the safety of livestock food products by adapting risk-based approaches to suit domestic informal livestock markets in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The project is led by the Market Opportunities theme of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The project involves several partners from eight countries in east, west and south Africa, namely, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, the Republic of South Africa and Tanzania and covers 19 participatory risk analysis topics.

Preliminary results from the proof of concept studies support the hypothesis that risk-based approaches may be useful in improving food safety in informal markets in developing countries.

The application of participatory risk analysis towards improved food safety in sub-Saharan Africa is discussed in a review paper published in the journal, Revue Africaine de Santé et de Productions Animales. The lead author of the paper, Dr Delia Grace, heads ILRI's research team on animal health, food safety and zoonoses.

Click here to read the abstract and access the review paper

For more information, visit the Safe Food, Fair Food project web page

Grace D, Makita K, Kang'ethe EK and Bonfoh B. 2010. Safe food, fair food: Participatory risk analysis for improving the safety of informally produced and marketed food in sub-Saharan Africa. Revue Africaine de Santé et de Productions Animales 8(S): 3-11.

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