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Multiplying benefits: Implementing food safety in the Kenyan agro-business sector


    Food safety testingFood safety is a global concern. Because weak food controls can dramatically impact our day-to-day lives, pressure from consumers, ecological associations & governmental bodies is now driving food supply chains to implement safer food management systems. Food safety is the assurance that food will not cause harm to the consumer when it is prepared and/or eaten according to its intended use. Mycotoxins, pesticides, food borne bacteria, drug residues are some examples of harmful elements that can contaminate food. Importantly, hygiene and sanitation in the production, processing, transportation and packaging of foods is equally important to maintain the quality and safety of food. Applying the principles of food safety consistently will help to steer away from a reactive approach that responds to emergencies to a solid foundation of confidence and reliability based on precautionary and preventive measures.


    International buyers are now starting to demand a fully operational and well-managed Food Safety Management System (FSMS) in place (e.g. ISO 22000). FSMS therefore opens new markets through improved competitiveness. In 2011 International Trade Centre (ITC) reinforced capacities of advisers and experts in implementing food safety and quality management in the agro-business sector in Kenya. Before implementing ISO 22000, it is necessary to implement systematic food safety practices, and be in compliance with the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) which is a mandatory requirement in several countries and markets.


    HACCP was originally  developed by the Pillsbury Company for NASA in the early 1960s to prevent food  safety incidents on manned space flights!

    Joseph Mwangi food safety expert KenyaMr. Joseph Mwangi was one of the six experts selected to participate in a series of workshops on food safety under the ITC project mentioned above, financed by the European Union. After the workshops, over the course of six months, he worked with an SME in Kenya to implement food safety, bringing the company up to the level of certification. The company was certified to HACCP in 2013. Following this, Mr. Mwangi proceeded to work with seven more companies. Of these, one company has already received its certification to HACCP, two companies have received local product certification, the SMark issued by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), and the remaining companies are at various stages of their certification audit. Mr. Mwangi is currently working with another ITC project in the dried mango and chilli sector to help village based entrepreneurs apply food safety systems.


    Mr. Mwangi, is among several other SME advisers oriented and formed as part of ITC’s projects in standards and quality around the world in its beneficiary countries. Specialized workshops hone skills and technical sessions transfer business competencies and methodologies. This strategy of building up the local competence pool, multiplying & redeploying expertise nationally and regionally ensures sustainability and ownership to projects, providing easier access to FSMS services otherwise not available or affordable to SMEs.

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    Khemraj Ramful

    Senior Adviser, Export Quality Management