Friday, 20 November 2020 09:22

Current Status of Food Poisoning and Foodborne Illness in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Way Forward: A Review

Written by J. Matofari, C. Syeunda* and K. Otieno
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J. Matofari, C. Syeunda* and K. Otieno

1Department of Dairy and Food Science and Technology,

Egerton University

*Corresponding Author: syeundac@gmail.com

In Sub Sahara Africa, food contamination continues to wreak havoc. In this region, ready-to-eat foods are majorly sold by street food vendors where hygiene becomes a major challenge given the inadequate supply of portable water. Large numbers of unlicensed vendors operating their businesses in hard to reach areas, mostly after-work hours, thwart the efforts by the public health inspectors to ensure safe food for the public. Agrochemical use in food production is at an all-time high posing the risk of pesticide residues in foods. As health records indicate, food poisoning and foodborne illness cases are on the rise in the region. These food safety challenges will only worsen the global food crisis given the food supply deficit in most parts of the world.  This is a cross-sectional desktop review of peer-reviewed journals, survey reports, and records from both government and private health facilities documenting food poisoning and foodborne illness outbreaks in Sub-Sahara Africa. Books on microbial physiology and metabolism have been used to highlight how to deal with the causative microorganisms.  Aetiological agents of food poisoning and foodborne illnesses can be broadly categorized as pathogenic and toxigenic bacteria, parasites and viruses. Incrementally, chemical contaminants and allergens that may find their way into food also play an important role. Unhygienic handling and deliberate contamination of food can be classified as human factors that also contribute to the problem. To address these issues, all the stakeholders in the food value chain should be involved. Food safety policies should promote surveillance and encourage players to adopt standards geared towards ensuring food safety. Training should be regularized to ensure players can monitor food safety and report outbreaks early for containment.  Multi-sectorial approach should be adopted to address challenges of policy implementation. Inter-departmental synergy is instrumental in addressing the current challenges.

Keywords: Food safety, Food contamination, Risk factors

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