A project in China found that the country improved its food safety control system from 2009 to 2019 and food became safer.
China launched the Food Safety Indicators Pilot Project in 2019, a decade after the Food Safety Law came into force, to assess its effectiveness.
During a kick-off workshop, six indicators were selected from the 40 listed by FAO Asia-Pacific and five technical working groups were created to work on them.
The indicators help analyze existing systems, standards and frameworks, identify areas for improvement and determine the future direction of food security in China, according to a project report.
One of the indicators looked at salmonella and listeria in raw and cooked meat and reported outbreaks caused by both pathogens in meat products. Salmonella and Listeria contamination of raw meat, from 2009 to 2018, was improving, which experts said could be due to tighter regulation and oversight.
The overall rate of contamination of Salmonella in fresh meat was higher than that of Listeria monocytogenes. The reverse was true for cooked meat products. After 2015, the rate of contamination by Salmonella in fresh meat and Listeria in cooked meat products decreased.
Experts said the industry should step up prevention in slaughterhouses and further processing, government regulators should strengthen law enforcement, and consumer awareness of meat handling should be improved.
Other indicators focused on water quality, risk analysis capacity, the food safety incident and epidemic notification system and the structure of the national control system in the country.
China has the largest population in the world and is one of the largest exporters and importers of food products.
A guide has already been released after several countries in the Asia-Pacific region asked the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to help them develop food safety indicators.
Future work will look at other indicators and the development of a food security index for China, officials said.
Food security and nutrition in Africa
FAO has also published a document on Food Safety and Nutrition in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region with a number of recommendations.
The mortality rate among children under 5 from diarrhea is highest in countries like Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Food safety and nutrition are often treated as separate issues, according to FAO.
“Improvements in nutrition cannot be achieved without addressing food safety throughout agrifood value chains. Nutritious foods that contribute to a healthy diet, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, animal foods such as meat, dairy products and eggs, and seafood are foods which may be one of the most sensitive products to food safety hazards, ”the guide said.
“Foodborne illness leading to chronic diarrhea can negatively impact nutritional status by reducing nutrient absorption and exacerbating nutrient deficiencies. Food safety and nutritional quality should be addressed throughout the agri-food value chain, from on-farm practices, use of agricultural inputs, e.g. clean water, high quality fertilizers and produce. phytopharmaceuticals, including production, harvesting, processing, storage, distribution and preparation for consumption.
Recommendations include increased awareness of food safety hazards and risks; promote an approach that links food security and nutrition in a coherent way; have targeted policies, legislation, standards, their application and monitoring of their implementation and surveillance; and strengthen national food control systems.
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