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Experts call for food safety

The East African Community, the African Union, and Kenya’s Ministry of Health, in partnership with public and private sector partners and development agencies in the National Food Safety Committee, have collaborated to organize the 5th World Food Safety Day Conference.

Working under the theme ‘Food standards save lives’, the conference is aimed at recognizing the importance of food standards across the world in keeping the consumers safe.

The event is aimed at drawing attention and inspiring action to help prevent, detect, and manage foodborne risks, thereby contributing to human health, food and nutrition security, economic prosperity, market access, and sustainable development.

Speaking at the conference in Nairobi on Monday, the Royal Danish Ambassador to Kenya, Mr. Ole Thonke, said that there are many similarities between Kenya and Denmark in the agricultural sector, thus the focus on food standards is a global phenomenon.

“Food safety and food standards is a business for everyone; therefore, collaboration and partnership amongst all stakeholders in the food safety sector in Kenya are extremely important,” highlighted Mr. Thonke.

Additionally, he stated that there is a new bill on food safety in the Kenyan parliament to be debated, and it takes the philosophy that everybody has the responsibility in the food safety sector, with recommendations on how the government can work together with the same model and methods to enhance food safety, insisting that when it is passed, it will be a step forward in Kenya.

Thonke emphasized that the Danish Embassy has worked together with the Kenya government for six years through the Strategic Sector Corporation, where they have experts from the Danish Ministry of Food and Agriculture who work directly with the Kenyan counterparts in sharing experiences on the methods and new models to ensure that Kenya has an up-to-date food safety system.

Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust (MESPT) CEO Rebecca Amukhoye said that this year’s International Food Safety Day is aimed at encouraging everyone to adapt and accept safe food standards across the food supply chain, from the producer to the consumer.

“Food is an essential part of what it means to be human, which is why unsafe food is unacceptable,” Amukhoye emphasized.

Amukhoye added that for the last five years, MESPT, with the funding support of the European Union and the Royal Danish Embassy, has been implementing a food safety system programme.

“The programme was built on the premise that there is a skill gap among the value chain. Some of the factors that have affected the competitiveness of the agricultural value chain include lack of coordination and harmony in the dissemination of skills,” she said.

Amukhoye highlighted that safety regulations have been perceived as the sole responsibility of the competent authority, leading to minimal participation by the private sector.

“As a way of addressing the above challenges, the programme is aimed at building the capacity of actors along selected agricultural value chains in building the capacity of 13 county governments and private sector affairs within those counties on the implementation and enforcement of food safety, plant health, and animal health regulations,” she emphasized.

Amukhoye explained that improving food safety requires sustained investment in stronger regulations, better coordination, better laboratories, more stringent surveillance, and better training and education.

By Emma Jolly Wambui

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