Introduction to the thematic
Consumers’ confidence in producers has been shaken by a succession of food crises, especially in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where the incidence of foodborne illness is highest. The consequences of a lack of food security are a threat not only to the health of populations, but also to the economies of low- and middle-income countries.
Despite the efforts made by the World Health Organization (WHO) and and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to review international food hygiene and safety standards; despite the strengthening of national food safety regulations and systems in many countries; and despite multiple corporate and border controls, the latest opinion surveys show that food safety remains at the heart of consumer concerns on all continents.
However, in most cases the perceived risk is much higher than the level of real risk (e.g. for pesticide residues, where non-compliance with MRLs is the exception rather than the rule for the vast majority of plant products on the market).
To ensure food safety and also to restore confidence and give consumers a sense of security, action is needed on several fronts:
- strengthen the regulatory framework and ensure it evolves according to the techniques and results of the risk analyses carried out;
- implement risk control measures for operators based on the principles of the HACCP approach, which the Codex Alimentarius recognises as the only reference method;
- identify the data to be recorded and ensure the traceability of products in order to trace the history, destination or origin of a product;
- ensure the application of these provisions through internal and external controls, control and monitoring plans, and internal and external audits.
In accordance with the objectives of its Charter, COLEACP places food safety at the heart of its activities. COLEACP advocates for carrying out economic activities in compliance with laws and regulations, respecting people’s well-being and applying best practices. COLEACP wants food safety, like other aspects of product quality, to be managed systematically and in close collaboration with customers.
To address all these very different aspects, this Food Safety course is structured into four routes. Each route has two levels. The intermediate level allows you to tackle the subject and to understand the main principles, without going into all the details of implementation. Successful completion of a test will give you access to the advanced level, where you can progress in understanding the subject and address the more practical aspects of implementation (details of the steps to follow, planning of operations, procedures to implement, reporting of results, etc.).All four routes combined will enable you to achieve a very broad level of knowledge about Food Safety; however, each route can be studied as a stand-alone resource.