Food safety is the assurance that food will not cause harm to the individual that ingests it. Various factors affect food safety ranging from poor hygiene at every stage of the food chain, inappropriate handling and storage of food products, adulteration and wrong or mistaken branding, change of lifestyle and dietary habits (increased demand for street-vended foods, meals consumed in food service establishments and parties), advent of street foods, small-scale food enterprises, online food vendors, poor monitoring and legislation by food safety control agencies and so on.
Food safety is an important factor in food security as food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, SAFE and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
The change in the dietary habits of consumers is an important factor which should be addressed. Consumers need to be aware and demand for safe foods as most people consume a lot of foods prepared outside of their homes and in a “partying population” where every Saturday is an avenue to eat from a different location far and near to people’s home, the control over the safety of foods externally has to be increased.
Street foods and online distributed foods from virtual vendors could contribute to the increase in unsafe foods in circulation if vendors don’t have enough training on safe food preparation and processing, maintaining of food hygiene. Consumers need to be aware of dangers in consuming externally vended foods and demand safer options.
Food safety control agencies have to properly monitor the unconventional food processors and vendors, train them on how to ensure food hygiene during preparation, certify them and consumers should also be keen on demanding certifications and proofs of ensuring food safety from vendors.
Adejoke Adewusi for Impact Nutrition Africa