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Ghent University – Department of Food Safety and Food Quality - is offering a three months International Training Program in Food Safety, Quality Assurance and Risk Analysis.
Food safety is related to microbiological, chemical and physical hazards and is resulting in short term (e.g. infectious disease, kidney problems) or long term (chronical) health problems (e.g. cancer, reduced life expectancy). The prevalence of chemical hazards and foodborne pathogens and the reported number of cases and outbreaks in the agri food chain are still high, thus affecting personal lives, business and countries economies. For instance, outbreaks of Salmonella and E. coli 0157:H7 on fresh produce; spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter spp. in Europe; bird flue (H5N1 virus) both in Europe and Asia, cholera in Asia, Latin America and Africa and rift valley fever in Africa. For chemical risks, only recently, the chemical (melamine) contamination in milk powder in China and the problems with acute aflatoxicose in Kenya due to consumption of moulded maize can complete this not exhaustive list of examples.
It is estimated that up to one third of the population in developed countries are affected by microbiological foodborne diseases each year, while the problem is likely to be even more widespread in developing countries. In addition, chronic dietary exposure to various chemical toxicants can be considered as well as a major problem. Moreover, in many of these developing countries, there is an extra problem regarding the food safety versus food security dilemma. Last decade, large efforts are made in Europe towards development and implementation of different food safety management systems to assure food safety in the agri food chain. As a result of this, more stringent requirements for foodstuffs imported from outside the EU have been specified as well, thus creating a problem for developing countries exporting to the EU in order to meet them.
Quantitative risk assessment (QRA) is the technical assessment of the nature and magnitude of a risk caused by a microbial hazard or chemical based on empirical data and mathematical models. It is part of the risk analysis process. Output of risk assessment and exposure assessment can lead to insight in current situation of potential human health aspects or via scenario analysis give insights in different interventions or mitigation strategies..
The purpose of this project is to train and disseminate knowledge and know how to participants, working for governmental, research or non profit organisations in the agri food chain and carry responsibility within the control of different aspects of food safety in developing countries. The main subjects, microbiological, chemical and physical hazards, in food safety are intensively reviewed. Participants will be trained to manage the possible measures of the hazards specified by (inter)national legislation, (Codex Alimentarius) guidelines, quality assurance standards/systems (e.g. Pre Requisite Programs, HACCP, ISO 22000, Global Gap). Risk Analysis, as basic methodology to take policy/management decisions, is an important subject in this training. Focus is made on both agricultural and industrial level. The training should take 4 months and will be organised on a yearly basis.
The department of Food Safety and Food Quality of the Faculty Bio Science Engineering of the Ghent University in Belgium (Europe) has a long history in cooperation with developing countries in the framework of research, education and projects in food safety, nutrition and food science. Out of this experience, the idea was born to create a train-the-trainer intensive program in order to disseminate knowledge and know how.