Africa must protect its food supplies from contamination by prioritising and investing in food production systems, says Ruth Oniang'o, editor-in-chief of the African Journal of Food Agriculture Nutrition and Development.
January 2009 saw Kenya destroy US$8 million worth of maize — the country's staple food — after it was found to be contaminated with aflatoxin. But it seems the government agency concerned was more worried about recouping storage costs than righting its failures, says Oniang'o.
African food systems are in dire need of attention but the facilities and staff required to monitor and maintain a safe food supply are hard to find, says Oniang'o.
Developing countries want to compete in international markets but often lack the resources and use any existing capacity to try and meet recipient country standards. As a result, internal food systems suffer and are left open to contamination and consequent food-related morbidity and mortality.
Oniang'o calls for more investment in improving storage facilities and training food safety staff.