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Controlling food related illnesses will intensify malnutrition, poverty

29 January 2015, 13:11 Mike Munga

Nairobi - A research by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) shows that efforts to control the alarming burden of food related illnesses in low income countries will intensify malnutrition and poverty.

In their book launched in Nairobi Tuesday, ILRI states that milk and meat are critical sources of food and income for millions and any blatant move to crackdown on the sellers is misinformed.

The book states that the market is growing rapidly as rising populations and incomes drive greater demand for meat and milk.

It further notes that many people tend to think that the food sold in informal markets in Africa is contaminated, which is not the case.

According to the research, food in Africa is suspected to spread dangerous pathogens ranging from Salmonella and E.coli to SARS, avian influenza and tuberculosis.

Read Also: Foods that may help prevent cancer

But ILRI researchers warn that the push for greater food safety standards in these markets must be informed by an understanding of their vital role as a provider of food and income to several hundred millions of people who rank among the world's poorest.

Delia Grace, a program leader for food safety and zoonoses at ILRI says that it is wrong for the third world countries to copy and adopt solutions developed in wealthy countries that favour large commercial operations over small producers.

"Our work across eight countries found that we are right to be concerned about food safety in informal markets for spreading gastrointestinal diseases that are a leading cause of sickness and death in developing countries, but it also shows that we are wrong to think that we can adopt solutions developed in wealthy countries," she said.

The study shows that more than 80 percent of livestock product purchases in developing countries occur through informal markets and the situation is unlikely to change for decades.

The research also indicates that even where supermarkets are an option, milk and meat sold there may pose a greater health threat than what is sold in traditional markets.

News24 did a spot check in Nairobi and established that many farmers and vendors of the commodities handle them using the right procedures and that chances of them getting contaminated were very minimal.

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- MyNews24

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