AU calls for awareness to tackle continent’s food safety challenges

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AUADDIS ABABA – The African Union Commission (AUC) on Tuesday called for urgent awareness campaigns to tackle food safety threats caused by Aflatoxin contamination, a toxic fungi, in most parts of the continent.

The Continental body said 170 million children had died over a period of time due to various ailments caused by pre-harvest and post-harvest food contamination caused by aflatoxin.

Aflatoxin is a toxic fungus mostly found on grains, vegetables and ground nuts.

The AU commission raised the alarm at the opening of a three-day meeting of the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) being organised by the Commission in Addis Ababa.

Speaking at the opening of the event, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Rhoda Peace, said “more than 170 million children had died of various ailments and diseases related to food poison and contamination over a period of time.’’

According to the Commissioner, the entire African continent is highly affected by aflatoxins because it lies within the tropical regions of 40 degrees North and 40 degrees South of the equator.

“Aflatoxin is a highly toxic fungal metabolite produced by certain strains of Aspergillum Flavours and related species in cereals, nuts and oilseeds that cause contamination when consumed by human or animals. [eap_ad_2] “Aflatoxin causes liver cancer in human and associated with childhood stunting and other adverse health effects with wide ranging impacts on trade and food security.

The1st PACA meeting is being convened to create awareness among stakeholders in the management of aflatoxins.

The stakeholders include AUC, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), national governments, private sector, health organisations, regulators, civil society groups, and development partners.

They are expected to embrace the PACA Strategy as a driving instrument for attainment of results and impact through input from stakeholders to enhance the effectiveness in the implementation of the programmes that address the health challenge.

The stakeholders are also expected “to exchange information, share experiences and lessons in aflatoxin mitigation and management, including evidence from recent studies.

“Identify and deepen partnerships to create synergies and strengthen programmes aligned with the PACA Strategy; and engage stakeholders to support efforts in the fight against aflatoxins on the African continent.’’

The UN Food and Agricultural Origination (FAO) data showed that 25 per cent of World food crops are affected by aflatoxins with tropical countries more at risk of chronic aflatoxin exposure.

FAO in its recent report said people in the developing countries especially Africa are on high risk that would affect international trade, health and food security.

The meeting being attended by AU members, Regional Economic Communities as well as international partners is expected to evolve strategies for tackling the aflatoxins challenges on crops.

The objective is to reduce food contaminations and its effects on health systems and international trade exchanges among nations. (NAN) [eap_ad_3]

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