A public-private initiative on food safety has closed after almost a decade.

The Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP) was set up in December 2012 after an agreement between the World Bank and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to pilot food safety management training in 2011.

It was intended to support global cooperation for food safety capacity building and promote and better coordinate such efforts in low- and middle-income countries.

Initial targeted financial resources of $45 million were not reached but the GFSP impacted food safety in the areas of regulation, knowledge management, and capacity building, according to participants. Donors included the United States, Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Food Industry Asia, Walmart, Cargill, Mars Inc. and Waters Corporation.

Initial expectations not reached
From 2014 to mid-2016, the GFSP was reduced to two full-time staff. In 2015, it did not attract additional funding. Several partners who were on the governing council were not donors and funders were becoming disillusioned. In August 2016, a CEO was hired but there was no funding for additional employees.

Assumptions in 2015 were that the number of partners would increase and financial resources would be forthcoming but not at the initial high expectation. These plans did not materialize. GFSP continued to have limited annual pooled funding of about $1 million to $2 million and no additional donors.

In 2017, three observer members: the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), Singapore Food Agency, and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) joined the governing committee.

The first GFSP Conference was at the World Bank offices in Paris in December 2012, to launch the GFSP, report on progress and review future actions. Two other annual events were held before such meetings were dropped because of the cost.

The first conference brought together 90 participants from 50 organizations. The second event was in Singapore in December 2013 with more than 150 participants from 70 countries. The third meeting took place in Cape Town in December 2014.

Objectives achieved and planned
In 2017 and 2019, the GFSP proposed two initiatives. The first was a Global Food Safety Index which would be a descriptive tool to provide a sense of achievements in food safety by country. It was not pursued because of a lack of funding. The second was the creation of a platform for improving laboratory networks across developing countries to build capacity in new methods and share technology.

A 2019 report found unsafe food costs low- and middle-income economies $110 billion in lost productivity and medical expenses each year. Much of the health and economic burden of unsafe food can be avoided through preventive measures, investments, and behavioral changes from farm to fork, according to the report.

In 2018 the GFSP commissioned a report to better understand the food safety landscape in Africa, including levels of investment. One of the findings was donor investments in food safety in sub-Saharan Africa largely focused on access to formal markets and regional and overseas exports.

GFSP conducted training in supply chain management, laboratory competency and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). In 2015, GFSP and the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) cooperated on curriculum development for food safety undergraduates and graduates.

One year later, the GFSP initiated a World Bank/IFC mission to work with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) to help create a needs assessment of food safety capacity development needs in certain provinces and coordinated completion of a food safety economic analysis in Indonesia.

In 2017, GFSP prepared a report to advise the FSSAI on international engagement and worked with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and African Union’s Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) on events in the next year.

In 2019, lab training in Singapore included pesticide residues analysis, detection of total mercury in fish products and aflatoxins B and G in nuts and cereals. This year, GFSP and the World Bank Group organized a webinar to mark the second World Food Safety Day in June.

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