NAIROBI, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- African countries should channel additional investments in food safety as a means to boost nutrition status of citizens and tackle ailments linked to contamination of key staples, says a report launched in Nairobi on Wednesday.
The global food safety partnership report found that Africa has the highest level of food contamination worldwide, and the phenomenon is to blame for human capital losses estimated at 16.7 billion U.S. dollars annually.
"More than half of donor funded food safety initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are focused on overseas markets, with less than half on domestic consumers," says the report.
It notes that development spending should target improved food safety for African consumers, who need greater information and awareness to be able to demand higher standards.
The report urges more investment into programs that focuses on health risks such as salmonella that local consumers face when purchasing from informal markets.
"It is unfortunate that less than five per cent of donor investments address local health risks yet more than 500 projects and activities in SSA are focused on food safety for exports since 2010," the report says.
Juergen Voegele, senior director for food and agriculture global practice at the World Bank said that food safety is critical to the long-term well-being of Africa and its people.
The World Bank official said that with the growing populations and changing diets, there is urgent need to take stock of the current food safety landscape in Africa and for new efforts to address old challenges.
"It is time to examine what the international donor community is doing to help address these challenges, and how donors, governments, the private sector and consumers can work together to strengthen Africa's food safety system," said Voegele.
Louise Scura, chair of the global food safety partnership governing committee noted that the development community is beginning to accept that there will be no food security and achievement of development goals in the absence of food safety.
Scura called for greater investments in food safety for African consumers and alignment of the development community's support to food safety and sharper focus on the need to alleviate the public health burden of food borne disease in Sub-Saharan Africa.