Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe worked with FAO/WHO Codex Coordinating Committee for Africa (CC-AFRICA) to address food safety through adherence to Codex Alimentarius.
Unsafe food is linked to the deaths of an estimated two million people globally each year, said FAO.
Addressing problems paves the way for increased international trade as more markets open up to animal and plant products meeting international standards, it added.
David Phiri, FAO sub-regional coordinator for Southern Africa, attributed success of the project to collaboration at all levels, at a meeting to mark its conclusion.
“We expect governments of Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe to pick up from where we have reached, provide adequate funding and continue to build on the good work already achieved.”
Three standards have been started as a result of the project: sorghum seed (Lesotho), Mahewu or fermented mealie beverage (Swaziland) and edible worms - amacimbi (Zimbabwe).
All countries in the SADC region are members of Codex but participation in relevant standard-setting bodies was limited because of resource constraints.
“Consistent participation of the countries of southern Africa in the work of the Codex Alimentarius and a better use of the existent standards of this organization will contribute to raising the level of food safety and the quality of food in the sub-region and also lead to better access to international food markets,” said Phiri.
One of the project outputs, capacity development for national Codex Contact Points (CCPs) and National Codex Committees (NCCs), can equip countries to play a more active and informed role in food code initiatives.
Aldrin Musiiwa, the deputy minister of health and childcare for Zimbabwe, told delegates that governments would strive to make resources available so the progress made would be maintained.
Musiiwa said food safety could be managed effectively through the ‘farm to table’ approach, which ensures hazards are monitored and controlled at all points through the chain.
“Food security cannot be achieved without managing food safety, for example, we cannot have a wholesome meal without ensuring that feed and water given to the animals are contaminant free, that the dairy facilities are maintained in good hygiene, ensuring that the utensils are clean and the food is transported in a proper way before being packaged.”