Availability of, access to, and utilization of safe food, and stability of these factors over time are at the core of food security. As defined by the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO), food security is when “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preference for an active and healthy life.” With a world population of 7.9 billion people growing at a rate of 1% per year and more than two billion people experiencing food insecurity, there is still much to do to meet this sustainable goal. The global marketplace is responding with innovation by reimagining traditional food sources as well as emerging and novel food products such as fermented foods, insect- and plant-derived protein sources, and laboratory developed foods to support variety and volume capacity needs. However, foundational to food security is food safety. Without assuring safe food, food security is unlikely. Hence, food safety systems are essential to support innovation.
Food safety systems inclusive of regulations, standards, and policies can set the framework for ensuring global trading capability. However, the food safety must be science-based and start at the beginning of the supply chain through consumption and elimination. Traceability, risk assessment, quality systems, fit for purpose methodology, laboratory proficiency, data management, education, and now, horizon scanning for potential threats are all part of a holistic approach to food safety infrastructure. Established food safety systems access the latest in science and technological innovation, training, and education, and have mechanisms in place to update or develop standards and policies that lag production of emerging or novel food product. Through public and private partnerships, multiple global efforts are underway to help address issues of food security, which include strengthening emerging food safety systems through capacity and infrastructure building. This session will provide an overview of global strategies and challenges of food security and food safety followed by an overview of efforts underway for capacity building in Africa.