3 September 2012

Tanzania: Use ICT to Improve Food Safety - Expert

Dar es Salaam — Following the ongoing market developments in Africa's regional blocks, countries have been advised to ensure mutual sharing of information and experience in monitoring food products circulated on the local markets.

The move is aimed at ensuring food safety to the final consumer, Tanzania's Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Hussein Mwinyi said last week in Dar es Salaam during the first coordination meeting on demolition of nuclear and related technologies for food safety.

"Networking, information and experience sharing among African countries sound juicy...because once the problem identified in one of the countries, will be easy to share information regarding the crisis with other nations and hence will be easy to protect consumers," Dr Mwinyi said.

Dr Mwinyi said that the monitoring of products circulated on the local markets cannot be ignored in today's world, which has become a global village with free movement of goods and people.

"The government of Tanzania will continue to be the centre in implementing Africa Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training on Nuclear related science and technologies project (AFRA)," he said.

More than thirteen African countries, Ethiopia, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Mauritius, Namibia, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, met in Tanzania last week to set up strategies on how to reduce food hazards associated with contaminated foods in order to protect and promote Africans' health.

Revealing Tanzania's strategies toward promoting consumer's health, the Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Donan Mmbando said that Tanzania has established a project that will be using nuclear technology to monitor the quality of food and drugs in implementing food safety mechanisms.

The project will also allow the country to enhance its laboratory's capacity to promote safe food and develop a laboratory quality management system.

"Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) has installed special laboratory equipment to be used for the detection and analysis of metallic contaminants, pesticides residues and aflatoxins in food products, the move is the first of its kind in East Africa," he said.

According to Mbando, the technology will also be used for the analysis of veterinary drug residues in animal products particularly in milk, eggs and meat.

Record shows that, TFDA has implemented a three-year project on nuclear techniques for monitoring food quality in Tanzania. The project was implemented from 2007 to 2010 with the financial support of over $220,000 (Tsh352m) from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"This project aimed at strengthening the capacity of TFDA laboratory in terms of training members of staff. Five of them were trained on procurement of equipment and developing a laboratory quality management system," the TFDA director general, Mr Hiiti Sillo said.

He said they were also trained on analysis of metallic contaminants, aflatoxins, veterinary drug residues and pesticide residues in food, including going for field attachments to an accredited laboratory.

"We are now implementing our new five-year strategic plan from 2012 to 2017. Among the targets in this plan include equipping the TFDA laboratory to analyze veterinary drugs and pesticide residues in food by June 2015," he said.

He further said that under the plan, IAEA has purchased laboratory equipment known as chemical and reference standards worth $55,015 (Tsh88m).

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