IFR is a partner in a project that is helping reduce the risk of foodborne disease in Tanzania’s meat supply chain.
Here, IFR’s Dr Gary Barker blogs about the need for such a project, as highlighted by the news of meat shortages prompted over hygiene fears.
In a recent issue of “The Citizen”, a leading newspaper from Dar es Salaam, there is a hard hitting article, by Edward Qorro, about abattoir practice and meat hygiene. Tanzania is a rapidly emerging market for meat so that slaughter facilities and butchers are stretched to the limit to meet the growing demand. As a consequence, in some locations, hygiene standards have slipped and the regulatory authority, the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority, has started to clamp down so that food safety is not compromised. Following a recent inspection some of the processing facilities were shut down and the resultant shortage of meat in the markets was a big issue for Tanzanian consumers.
Meat supply chain in Arusha (Image courtesy of Jo Sharp – Livestock, Livelihoods and Health)More surprisingly concern over food safety, in places like Tanzania, is matched by an interest from many UK organizations. In 2012 DFID, BBSRC and the other research councils launched a multidisciplinary programme about zoonoses in emerging livestock systems (ZELS) – with particular emphasis on minimizing health risks, for both livestock and people, in places where agriculture is changing rapidly. Globalization of food supplies, climate change, emergence of novel diseases and many other factors ensure that food safety considerations are complex and are shared across continents and across lifestyles.
IFR is a partner in a ZELS project that concentrates on bacterial food borne disease in the Tanzanian meat chain. The work is being led by Professor Ruth Zadoks at the University of Glasgow and is part of Livestock, Livelihoods and Health, a research programme exploring zoonoses in Tanzania that includes partners in New Zealand, USA and Tanzania. IFR is constructing modular risk models that highlight strengths and weaknesses in the meat supply systems and, hopefully, identify opportunities for prevention and control of hazards as the systems develop.
Modelling is supported by a large group of researchers and field workers in Tanzania who are collecting samples and assembling data relating to the occurrence of important pathogens – including campylobacter and salmonella that are very familiar to risk managers in the UK. This integration contributes to a long history of ‘One Health’ approaches favoured by Tanzanian researchers and, hopefully, the results will ensure that in the future consumers in Dar es Salaam will not be deprived of good quality local meat.