Safe Food International

Regions

Sub-Saharan Africa

The high incidence of diarrheal diseases among newborns and young children are indications of the food hygiene situation in the African Region. Although outbreaks of acute poisoning are frequent, inadequate surveillance systems hinder governments’ ability to accurately assess the impact of food contamination problems on public health.

While poverty is the underlying cause of consumption of unsafe food in the African Region, other factors, such as lack of access to clean water, weak government structures, population growth, the rise of AIDS and other communicable diseases, trade pressure, and poor environmental conditions exacerbate the situation.

Even if data regarding foodborne diseases in the African Region are extremely scarce, studies have shown that the following pathogens are prevalent: Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Hepatitis, Brucella, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli, and rotavirus.

 

Consumer organizations in the African Region

Consumer organizations are involved in a variety of food safety activities. Consumer groups run programs to ensure food control and inspection of markets and shops; conduct chemical, bacteriological, and physical analysis of food products; provide supervision to ensure that contaminated foods are withdrawn from the market; and ensure that the government or industry provides consumer notification. Other programs focus on improving the quality of street foods and on consumer training and awareness.

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For the most recent news and alerts from the North Africa/Middle East Region, visit the Safe Food International Regional News website.  Read about the following topics from the European Region:

North Africa & Mideast

Food safety is increasingly viewed as an essential public health issue in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Despite efforts to modernize food safety laws, there is limited information available to fully evaluate the food safety problems and issues. Many countries have not established surveillance or reporting mechanisms adequate to identify and track foodborne diseases.

Foodborne diseases are generally perceived as mild and self-limiting illnesses, and constitute a fact of daily life in this region. Medications, if used at all, are bought over-the-counter and disease episodes go unreported. Some diseases, like diarrhea and cholera, are frequently viewed as strictly waterborne - rather than foodborne -diseases. Medical attention often is sought too late, when the disease has become extremely debilitating and only drastic treatment might be effective.

Animal diseases have been the driving force for food safety reforms in the Eastern Mediterranean Region as it struggles to contain outbreaks of brucellosis, rabies, and animal-related salmonellosis.

 

Consumer organizations in the Eastern Mediterranean Region

Consumer organizations in the Eastern Mediterranean Region have identified as principal concerns the quality of manufactured food, pesticides, and food safety education and awareness.

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For the most recent news and alerts from the North Africa/Middle East Region, visit the Safe Food International Regional News website.  Read about the following topics from the European Region:

Europe & Central Asia

 

Over the past 15 years, food policy in the European Region has been reshaped in response to a series of problems, beginning with the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis in Britain, and followed quickly by dioxin contamination of animal feed, resulting in the contamination of numerous meat products in northern Europe. These problems led to the creation of a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which set food safety regulations designed to harmonize existing national requirements and establish innovative standards.

Countries that seek EU membership must harmonize their food safety regulations with the requirements of the EU. The lack of financial resources and trained food safety specialists remain main obstacles to the modernizing of food safety systems in Central and Eastern European countries.

 

Consumer organizations in the European Region

Consumer organizations in the European Region are involved in many types of food safety projects, such as food testing, developing consumer education materials, participating in the development of food legislation, and maintaining a comprehensive online resource for consumers. In addition to food hazards, groups in the European Region focus on the use of food additives, growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and GE organisms.  Consumer groups play an increasingly crucial role in the process of policymaking on a national and regional level.

Improvements in consumer participation are sought through increased transparency of decision making, providing a framework for discussions between scientific experts and consumers, and ensuring accurate and honest information for consumers in the marketplace.

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For the most recent news and alerts from the European Region, visit the Safe Food International Regional News website.  Read about the following topics from the region:

Southern Asia (incl. N. Korea)

Although there have been major nutritional improvements in the South East Asian Region since the 1990s, the same cannot be said for food safety. For a large percentage of the people of the South East Asian Region, gaining access to safe food remains a major obstacle.

Foodborne diseases are common in most South East Asian countries. Microbiological contamination of food and water is a major cause of diarrheal illness and deaths. 

Factors contributing to human health concerns include inadequate access to clean water, increased use of pesticides and chemicals in agriculture and food processing, and the lack of producer and consumer education. Rapid growth of the urban population and wide-spread reliance on street-vended food also aggravate food safety problems.

In South East Asian countries with the regulatory framework for monitoring food control, enforcement is often weak, owing to inadequate infrastructure and staffing

 

Consumer organizations in the Region

Consumer organizations in the Southern Asian Region have identified their major projects as developing national food-safety standards, conducting comparative food product tests, advocacy to improve access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food, and adoption of laws to improve the safety of street food.

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For the most recent news and alerts from the Southern Asia Region, visit the Safe Food International Regional News website.  Read about the following topics from the region:

East Asia & Pacific

The Western Pacific Region faces a wide array of food safety problems. Both biological and chemical contamination of food are prevalent. Diseases carried by live animals and poultry, such as Avian Influenza, also present a risk to consumers.

Factors contributing to foodborne illness in the region include: unsafe aquaculture practices, intensive farming practices, new packaging and processing technologies improperly applied,  marine toxins, rapid urbanization, increased international trade in food and feed, lack of adequate food labelling.

Some Western Pacific countries have well-developed food safety programs, while others lack adequate food safety infrastructure do to lack of resources. Wealthier nations, such as Australia and New Zealand, have more developed regulatory programs because of their economic reliance on agricultural exports.

Consumers organizations in the Region

Western Pacific consumer organizations are very active in food safety promotion. They work to develop food safety laws, promote food labelling, and educate consumers on food-related issues. Product safety testing by national consumer organizations have exposed products with dangerous levels of dyes, heavy metals, and additives, as well as antibiotic residues in fresh fish and seafood.

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For the most recent news and alerts from the Western Pacific Region, visit the Safe Food International Regional News website.  Read about the following topics from the region:

North America

Although the North American Region is considered to have one of the most advanced food safety programs, the region faces significant challenges and the incidence of foodborne illness in the region is still quite high.

Challenging factors include: new technologies; more sophisticated distribution systems; increased concentration in production and manufacturing systems; the rise of monoculture in crop and livestock production; and increased demand and access to imported foods. Emerging strains of common foodborne pathogens and the increased susceptibility of certain segments of the population to foodborne infections pose additional challenges.

Improving food safety in the North American Region will require its three countries to establish greater links, in part, through an integrated surveillance program.

Consumer organizations in the Region

Consumer organizations in the North American Region work on food labelling, reducing foodborne illness, obesity, alcohol policy, and antibiotic resistance.

Several consumer organizations are relatively large and well-funded. Government funding of consumer organizations is less common than in other regions, though some organizations have obtained specific project grants from the government. Smaller groups are funded by foundations.

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For the most recent news and alerts from the North America Region, visit the Safe Food International Regional News website.  Read about the following topics from the region:

Central and South America

The Central and South American Region embraces some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet. The region’s different climates set the stage for a wide range of food safety problems, resulting from the prevalence of pathogens, cultural practices that promote pathogen growth and spread, the globalization of trade, and increased travel and tourism.

Diarrhea caused by contaminated food and water is a major challenge for health authorities in many countries and communities that lack basic sanitary services.

International organizations have recognized foodborne diseases as a significant public health issue in the Central and South American Region, giving rise to a number of innovative programs to promote networking and collaboration among countries in Central and South America.

 

Consumer organizations in the Central and South American Region

Consumer organizations in the Central and South American Region address a variety of issues, including sustainable food production and consumption, comparative tests of food, strengthening food safety systems, food labelling policies of national governments, agricultural biotechnology issues, and consumer food safety education.

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Central and South America
For the most recent news and alerts from the Central and South America Region, visit the Safe Food International Regional News website.  Read about the following topics from the region: