Kwaku Mensuoh (R) with Prof. Sefa-Dedeh MEASURES TO upgrade quality standards and ensure that consumers enjoy a variety of food and enhance the market of the food export sector in the sub-region have been instituted.
The move is a collaborative effort between the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and in line with international food standards to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in food trade.
Food borne illness is a major international health problem and an important cause of reduced economic growth in especially developing countries.
There is concern about, for example, chemical contamination, the use of antibiotics in animal rearing and the transfer of antibiotic resistance to human pathogens.
A special committee created by the two bodies named the Codex Coordinating Committee for Africa (CCAFRICA) as the group to develop food standards, guidelines and related codes of practice under a joint food standards programme. It has facilitated the design of a website for food safety management based on scientific principles.
CCAFRICA website www.codexafrica.org which was outdoored yesterday will provide specialized advice and support on food security, food safety and nutrition issues within the region.
According to Prof Samuel Sefa-Dedeh, coordinator for CCAFRICA, the website will aid the setting up of a database of experts in the region to assist countries in making the necessary inputs and place the information on the site as well as create a network of institutions with mandates to support activities of codex.
Prof Sefa-Dedeh who is also the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Sciences, University of Ghana observed that networking African countries is a difficult task especially in the area of trade as many of the countries belong to certain organisations which have different agendas.
“It is unfortunate that African countries do not take part in programmes that affect them,” he said.
He stressed that the CCAFRICA Website will help in the creation of a network that is formidable and can stand the test of time.
“Our scientists lack insight into certain required issues hence the need to solicit information from other scientists on the continent.”
Akosua Takyiwa Kwakye, representing the WHO noted that standards have significant implications for health and food trade as well as development.
She said in 2003, WHO recognising that developing countries were failing to fully participate in the work of the Codes or in setting of food safety standards in general primarily due to budgetary constraints, facilitated the establishment of a Codex Trust Fund to give financial assistance to such countries.
Dr Cheikh Ndiaye, speaking on behalf of the FAO was also happy that the website would enable the exchange of information and enhance the participation of African countries in Codex activities.
The CCAFRICA website which took a month to develop was designed by the Index Com Limited with special features such as chat room, personalized mail system and a list of expertise on the continent that makes it interactive and encourages the sharing of information among members. CCAFRICA has forty-four member-countries with Ghana as the current coordinator. As coordinator for the African region, Ghana will host the 18th session of CCAFRICA forum between February 24 and 28, 2009 and it is envisaged that the website will be marketed during the conference.
By Emelia Ennin Abbey