CFAES project to improve food safety in Kenya

The CFAES Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI) has been awarded a $770,000 grant to improve food safety and prevent foodborne illnesses in Kenya. 

The initiative is one of four new research projects announced by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

The 3.5-year project, “Chakula salama: a risk-based approach to reducing foodborne diseases and increasing production of safe foods in Kenya,” includes researchers from Ohio State, the University of Florida, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and the University of Nairobi, all of whom will develop and test food safety interventions to support Kenya’s small-scale poultry producers.

This work is significant considering that foodborne diseases cause an estimated  91 million illnesses and $16.7 billion in human capital losses annually in Africa, said Barbara Kowalcyk, CFI director. She is also a faculty member in the CFAES Department of Food Science and Technology, as well as the Translational Data Analytics Institute at Ohio State.

“This project will use a systems-based approach to answer important food safety questions and build an enabling environment that fosters the implementation of risk-based approaches to food safety in Kenya and, eventually, other African countries,” she said.

The project focuses on reducing the risk of illnesses from Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry produced by women and youth poultry farmers. Kowalcyk, two CFI staffers, and two CFAES students traveled to Kenya in March to work with some 100 Kenyan poultry producers, with a goal of developing a roadmap for allocating resources and building capacity for Kenyans to implement food safety measures recommended by CFI.

Our goal is to improve access to safe food and improve food security and nutrition,” Kowalcyk said. “This will have a huge impact on food in Kenya.”

Founded as a nonprofit organization in 2006, CFI brought its 16-year record of protecting public health to CFAES in September 2019. The center has a mission to advance a more scientific, risk-based food safety system that prevents foodborne illnesses and protects public health by translating science into policy and practice. To learn more about CFI, visit