Food Safety Month Wrap-Up
To celebrate World Food Safety Day 2022, USAID joined counterparts and partners around the globe to highlight what people are doing to address food safety risks throughout food systems. Throughout June, Agrilinks published a series of posts that emphasized the critical role food safety plays in achieving food security. Thanks to all of you who contributed and learned from the diverse experiences and perspectives shared.
Among the many highlights of Food Safety Month, one notable moment occurred during the June 23 webinar “Increasing Food Security through Safe, Nutritious Diets.” A participant asked panelists if the Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger was possible. Panelists were quick to acknowledge that it is an ambitious goal but one that is worth pursuing. It was highlighted that food safety is a critical pathway to sustaining food security and nutrition progress.
Collaboration for scale
This webinar reinforced the importance of collaboration for food safety progress to be accomplished at scale — a theme that came through loud and clear during Food Safety Month. To maximize progress requires collaboration between researchers, local civil society, government stakeholders, the private sector and donor organizations.
Collaboration among researchers is part of the solution. We learned how the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety (FSIL) is facilitating collaboration between U.S.-based researchers and researchers in Kenya and Senegal. A blog about a risk ranking workshop for poultry in Kenya described a forum for scientists, experts, stakeholders and farmers to exchange knowledge and opinions based on their expertise. In Senegal, the University of Georgia-based FSIL researchers are partnering with Senegalese colleagues at the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (ISRA), National Nutrition Development Council (CNDN) and Food Technology Institute (ITA) to strengthen local capacity for the dairy value chain, nutrient-rich, economically important dietary staple.
Making safe food a reality necessitates forging innovative partnerships to create platforms to discuss, plan and implement interventions at scale. For example, EatSafe in Nigeria is developing a multistakeholder association to bring together vendors, consumers, market actors and governing representatives with the goal to act as a sustainable, supporting structure to improve food safety in traditional markets. Through this work, they aim to harness new findings to promote safer food in traditional markets by testing approaches targeting traditional markets to increase consumer’s and vendor’s motivations to improve food safety.
Another innovative partnership is the Food Safety Network (FSN), a U.S. interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), USAID and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FSN partnered with Texas A&M University (TAMU) under the auspices of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative to develop an international training program on core sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) topics. The SPSCourses.com website hosts all learning modules and educational training materials.
Innovative partnerships that align with private sector business models are essential to scale. Mars shared the example of the Mars Global Food Safety Center (GFSC), which acts as a global and virtual hub for food safety research, collaboration, knowledge sharing and education. The GFSC has partnered with the USAID-funded Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss (PHLIL) to combat mycotoxins in Nepal. Another example highlighted a Food Safety-First (FS-First) Budget Tool designed through partnership between Lutheran World Relief and Corus International with funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) through the Agribusiness Market System Alliance (AMEA) network. This tool increases farmers organizations’ ability to cost out and plan steps to meet food safety standards for their buyers and consumers. Business Drivers for Food Safety (BD4FS) partners with growing food business to improve food safety practices, such as Carvi Foods in Senegal, which was able to secure a contract with the supermarket Auchan.
Collaboration must also be inclusive and keep gender and youth considerations central. This month featured several examples that underscored the role women and youth play in addressing food safety risks in their communities. To have a lasting impact, interventions must not overlook women and youth. Empowering women with skills and knowledge promotes stronger and prosperous communities. The Feed the Future Guatemala Innovative Solutions for Agricultural Value Chains Project trains women to properly manage, prepare and store food to reduce the risk of stomach infections and other commonly transmitted diseases that affect their health. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish shared an example of three, day-long training sessions for women to improve the quality and safety of fish in Delta State, Nigeria.
Responding to shocks
Strong relationships are an inherent part of effective collaboration and partnership throughout local and global food systems. While still adjusting to a world navigating a pandemic, we are simultaneously closely monitoring how Russia’s war on Ukraine is affecting poverty, hunger and malnutrition. These shocks are a reminder of the importance of stable food supply chains. Improving food safety procedures can reduce food loss and waste and immediately increase the availability of food while strengthening food supply chains for the future. Amidst this backdrop, we are also contending with climate threats to global food security. While projections of worsening hunger tend to grab headlines, climate threats to food safety are less publicized and less understood, but remain just as serious. Investments in data collection and research are needed to further build our understanding of how climate change is impacting food safety, including threats that have yet to be identified. Traditional markets are an important source of nutritious food in low- and middle-income countries. The Evidence and Action Towards Safe, Nutritious Food (EatSafe) short film, “The Story of Felicia and Musa” shows how traditional markets must not only be safe but also resilient — remaining open to provide safe, nutritious food despite shocks and conflicts.
The increased leadership and commitment to prioritize food safety within food security and nutrition agendas is exciting. The African Union’s clear position that food safety is a 2022 priority in support of the Year of Nutrition has mobilized diverse stakeholders. When USAID administrator Samantha Power spoke recently about the importance of Progress, Not Programs, she emphasized a locally led development approach that “prioritizes and elevates the roles of organizations, institutions and people of the countries we serve — that is the key to delivering the kind of results that will be visible years and years in the future, long after our programs have wound down.” This approach provides a vision for how to scale up food safety solutions so that the global ambition to achieve Sustainable Development Goals can be realized.
We look forward to continuing this celebration of food safety progress with all of you. Please keep an eye on Agrilinks for more food safety content.