Leake, doing business as Food Safety Ink, is a food safety consultant, auditor, and award-winning journalist based in Wilmington, N.C. Reach her at LLLeake@aol.com.
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Explore This IssueFebruary/March 2015
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African Success Stories
On a positive note, there are many instances where governments of African countries have identified and developed specific agricultural sectors of importance for international trade.
“These sectors have grown substantially in a relatively short time due to the strong support they have received through appropriate policies and associated investment,” says Lucia Anelich, PhD, a consultant to the African food industry and international organizations. “The result is successful access to regional and international markets, with associated benefits, assisted by implementation of appropriate standards for food safety and quality.”
According to Dr. Anelich, examples include:
- Beef from Botswana,
- Fish and fish products from Namibia,
- Fresh produce, fish and groundnut oil from Senegal,
- Fresh produce from Egypt and Kenya,
- Fresh produce and fish from Gambia,
- Cocoa from Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Togo,
- Coffee from Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Madagascar,
- Fresh fruit juice from Mali and Kenya,
- Fresh mangoes from Mali and Burkina Faso,
- Canned French beans and fresh pineapple juice from Kenya,
- Cashew nuts from Tanzania,
- Maize from Malawi,
- Sugar and sugar confectionery from Mauritius,
- Fresh produce and fish from Morocco,
- Fresh vegetables and honey from Zambia,
- Meat, fish, and seafood products from Seychelles,
- Fresh vegetables from Zimbabwe,
- Tree nuts and spices from Nigeria,
- Sugar and pineapples from Swaziland,
- Fish and fish products from Angola, and
- A multitude of products from various food sectors from South Africa.
What about Ebola? Is it a Foodborne Disease?
Since its identification in 1976, Ebola virus disease (EVD) has appeared sporadically in sub-Saharan Africa. As has been seen with the current tragic epidemic in West Africa, considered the largest outbreak to date, EVD is severe and often fatal in humans. Centered in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, this outbreak has tallied 17,942 reported cases and 6,388 deaths as of December 10, 2014, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“EVD can also have the same impact on non-human primates (NHPs) such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees,” say Lucia Anelich, PhD and Gerald Moy, PhD, authors of a recent paper on the disease published as a Scientific Information Bulletin by the International Union of Food Science and Technology. “In fact, the natural reservoir was originally thought to be gorillas because human outbreaks began after people ate gorilla meat.”
According to Drs. Anelich and Moy, scientists now believe that African fruit bats are the natural reservoir for the virus, and that apes and humans become infected from handling and eating raw meat from infected animals (bats or monkeys), fruit that has been covered with bat saliva or feces, or by coming in contact with surfaces covered in infected bat droppings and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouths.
“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has flatly stated that Ebola is not foodborne,” they emphasize. “This viewpoint results most likely because neither bats nor NHPs are eaten or handled in the U.S. food supply chain. In fact, importing bush meat is not permitted and is subject to a fine of $250,000. However, from an international perspective, as pointed out by the WHO, food handlers and consumers of raw meat from bats or monkeys/apes are at risk of EVD and, therefore, Ebola is a foodborne disease in those countries with bush meat traditions.”
As a consequence, WHO recommends: “Reducing the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats or monkeys/apes and the consumption of their raw meat. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing. Animal products (blood and meat) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.”