Two German agencies are helping to boost food safety and consumer protection in Tunisia.

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), both part of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), are lending their expertise to the project.

Tunisia adopted a new food safety law in 2019 that includes the establishment of risk analysis structures. The BfR and BVL are supporting the country in its implementation on the ground.

The aim is to strengthen the administrative structures for food safety and consumer protection in Tunisia. This will protect the public, create better working conditions and help regional and global trade, according to officials.

Since the law was passed, Tunisia has set up a national food safety authority (INSSPA) and a risk assessment agency (ANCSEP/ANER). Both are under the responsibility of the Tunisian Ministry of Health. BfR and BVL will advise the Tunisian authorities and provide training.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is providing €5 million ($5.9 million) for the efforts over five years.

Morocco cooperation and other work
Earlier this year, the BfR signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Moroccan Food Safety Authority (ONSSA). The aim is to strengthen cooperation between the two authorities.

Morocco is an important trading partner for Germany in North Africa and the BfR believes the risk assessment of foodstuffs needs to be harmonized and standardized internationally.

“The focal points of the future alliance are the risk assessment of plant protection products and risk communication, especially in connection with foodborne disease outbreaks,” said Andreas Hensel, BfR president.

The BfR is also involved in a project preventing and combating Campylobacter infections (PAC-CAMPY) that runs until October 2022.

Partners will investigate the efficacy of mitigation strategies along the food chain, survival strategies outside the host and host-pathogen interaction to limit pathogen colonization, and spread in affected animals, humans and in the environment.

Another focus is the development of novel molecular methods for sensitive quantitative detection of Campylobacter at all stages of the food chain. Models of risk intervention and source attribution, based on data generated by the consortium, will support public health authorities and industry to focus interventions.

The agency is part of work to reduce microbial contaminants in the poultry and pig slaughtering processes. The KontRed project runs until November 2023. The objective is to reduce the microbiological burden of zoonotic agents on carcasses at the end of the slaughter line by optimizing existing processes, developing control and intervention measures and a validation model.

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