Food safety is ‘everybody’s business’ on World Food Safety Day
A few years ago, Julie Gwaderi, a director of Sous Chef Ltd., took a step that many of us dream about – taking her recipes out of the kitchen and running a thriving food and catering business. Now Julie’s products, including samosas, spring rolls, chapatis, naans, meatballs and quiches, are available in major supermarkets and five-star hotels throughout Kenya, her home country.
But safety is a paramount concern for any successful food supplier. That’s why Julie’s business conforms to recognized HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point) standards based on Codex food safety principles.
‘With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne diseases annually -- almost 1 in 10 people in the world fall ill after eating contaminated meals -- food safety is an increasing threat to human health,’ says the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO says that foodborne diseases also impede development by straining health care systems and harming national economies, tourism and trade.
Increasing concern over the development burdens of unsafe food has led the United Nations General Assembly to declare 7 June 2019 as the first-ever World Food Safety Day. The date marks the adoption of a commitment to safe food made by the international community at a conference held by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2017.
‘World Food Safety Day will be a chance for everyone to take a moment to think about something we often take for granted: food safety,’ said Tom Heilandt, secretary of Codex Alimentarius, the joint FAO/WHO food standards body.
‘Thanks to the widespread efforts of Codex Members and Observers, the international community will speak with one voice on 7 June to promote awareness and inspire actions for safer food,’ he said.
The theme of the inaugural World Food Safety Day is: ‘Food Safety is Everybody’s Business’. At ITC, that means micro, small and medium-sized enterprises such as Sous Chef in Kenya.
With numerous projects in different regions and countries across the globe, ITC builds the capacity of a pool of advisers that become food safety champions for businesses.
The ITC methodology features a training and coaching pack on HACCP based on Codex hygiene and food safety principles. Trainers, in turn, use their experience and knowledge to train other micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in applying HACCP during and after the end of the project.
Establishing a food safety system and acquiring recognition through third-party certification can be a costly and painstaking journey.
Sous Chef’s Julie says that early in her food-safety journey she could only afford to pay a qualified professional once a week – so, to acquire the right certifications she joined an ITC programme run in collaboration with the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
Soon, Sous Chef was able to access technical standards and conformity assessment information, and train its employees in hygiene requirements and implementing standard sanitary operations and procedures. The cost was minimal thanks to the availability of the locally trained adviser.
‘All products are made with fresh and the very best quality ingredients every day, and the recipes are the traditional home recipes with no compromising on quality,’ Julie says on her website. By ensuring these standards, Julie’s business has taken off, employing more people, and opening new markets.
But Julie’s is hardly the only success story. ITC has been active in more than 20 countries including Fiji, Gambia, Malawi, Myanmar, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia with its trainer-cum-counselors programme to assist micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
ITC has also supported exporters of agricultural products in Peru’s northern Amazonian corridor to overcome the many challenges they face to implement Codex hygiene requirements in trying to develop new markets abroad and diversify their offering.
‘ITC is delighted to support World Food Safety Day with our partners on 7 June and continue to build a pool of experts so that they can empower micro, small and medium-sized food companies to scale-up by applying international food safety standards,’ ITC Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez said.
‘Food safety is everybody’s business; food safety is ITC’s business,’ she said.