Food borne bacteria, viruses and chemical residues namely mycotoxins, pesticides and veterinary drugs residues and toxic metals are major biotic constraints to food security causing losses in crop yield, human productivity (40%) and in export, and lowered performance of animal husbandry in addition to the direct human health impacts of increased incidence of cancers, growth stunting in children, reduced life expectancy and death. Other threats, such as salmonellosis, entero-haemorrhagic diseases, hepatitis A, cholera, heavy metal poisoning, the threat of antibiotic resistance arising from improper use of veterinary drugs, and chronic pesticide and industrial chemical residue exposure need urgent attention.
Unsafe food being the cause of over 200 diseases is singularly the biggest killer of human beings and needs to be kept in check. These pervasive diseases arising from the contamination of foods and feeds by these major food contaminants and the anticipated higher toxicity of the cocktails of food toxicants; which affects fetuses, pregnant women and children at disproportionally high rates can only be revealed and mitigated by an innovative interdisciplinary workforce. Therefore, in response to the AAU-AFD partner call, four ACEs together with other health related ACEs and our non-ACE industry partners came together to establish the West African Food Safety Network (WAFOSAN) in order to address the huge food safety burden in Africa.
The research activities of the Network will generate novel data on the microbial and chemical profiles of West African food baskets and the interactive effects of the mixture of the major classes of food borne toxins. Such data are absolutely absent or rare in the Region. The toxicological data which will be related to disease outcomes in the study areas will provide basis for food safety intervention for sustainable public health.
The Network aims to strengthen and share academic and research resources in participating institutions to conduct exposome based public health interventions for food borne pathogenic microbes, mycotoxins, pesticides and veterinary drug residues, heavy metals, cyanide and polychlorinated biphenyls towards ensuring a safe, controlled and sufficient food supply that will support public health and economic growth.
WAFOSAN Network Partners
- Africa Centre of Excellence for Mycotoxin and Food Safety (ACEMFS) Federal University of Technology Minna, Niger state, Nigeria.
- West African Centre of Excellence for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogen (WACCBIP) University of Ghana, Legon Boundary, Accra, Ghana.
- Africa Centre of Excellence for the Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases (CEA-PCMT) Gamel Abdel Nasser University Conakry, Conakry, Guinea.
- Africa Centre of Excellence in Public Health and Toxicological Research (ACE-PUTOR) University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.