Chakula Salama: a Risk-Based Approach To Reducing Foodborne Disease and Increasing Production of Safe Foods in Kenya

A team of researchers from The Ohio State University, the University of Florida, Kenya Medical Research Institute, and the University of Nairobi, will work to develop and test food-safety interventions to support Kenya’s small-scale poultry producers.

Ms Nduku collecting eggs from her chicken farm in Gathiga, Kiambu County in Central Kenya (Photo Courtesy: Farm Biz Africa)

Foodborne disease (FBD) causes an estimated 91 million illnesses and $16.7 billion in human capital losses annually in Africa. The overarching goal of Chakula Salama, which means “safe food” in Swahili, is to improve food security and nutrition in Kenya by developing capacity for systems-based, risk-informed approaches to food safety that reduce risk of FBD, increase production of safe food, and improve economic outcomes. Specifically, we are using a systems-based, risk-informed approach to ask and answer important food safety questions and build the foundation for an enabling environment that fosters implementation of risk-based approaches to food safety in Kenya while advancing the objectives in Kenya’s 2013 National Food Safety Policy as well as FSIL objectives.

Chakula Salama will focus on poultry since it is an important dietary component for poor and middle-class Kenyan households and an important source of revenue for women and youth. Poultry is often produced and processed in informal settings, which rarely include pathogen mitigation strategies, it is a high-risk value chain. Capacity for systems-based, risk-informed approaches to food safety will be built through four objectives:

  1. Identify, in collaboration with stakeholders, food safety priorities for poultry value chains in Kenya using a risk-informed approach.
  2. Characterize Salmonella enterica (SALM) and Campylobacter spp. (CAMPY) in poultry value chains managed by women and youth farmers in peri-urban areas of Kenya.
  3. Develop and evaluate the efficacy of culturally and gender appropriate, practical, and scalable intervention strategies for mitigating risk of SALM and CAMPY in poultry that effectively account for gendered roles in poultry production.
  4. Estimate the public health impact and evaluate the benefits and costs from selected intervention strategies to inform public and private decision-making.

We will work with stakeholders to identify available evidence to estimate levels of risk and options for mitigating those risks and facilitate a process for prioritizing risk mitigation efforts with a lens on gender and youth (Obj 1). We will characterize SALM and CAMPY contamination at critical points in poultry value chains, focusing on women and youth farmers in the peri-urban areas of Kenya, and build a pipeline of food microbiology expertise through educational workshops and skills trainings (Obj 2, Capacity Building). Based on Obj 1 outcomes, we will evaluate the effectiveness of one or two interventions on reducing SALM and CAMPY contamination of poultry products and changing food safety knowledge, attitudes, and practices (Obj 3). Finally, we will conduct qualitative risk assessments to estimate public health impacts and benefits and costs of the selected interventions (Obj 4). Ultimately, this project will improve health in Kenya by 1) developing a risk-based roadmap for making decisions and allocating food safety resources that can be extended to other value chains, pathogens, and/or LMIC; and 2) increasing Kenyan resources to implement such an approach.

Principal Investigator: Barbara Kowalcyk (OSU), Assistant Professor of Food Safety and Public Health, Director of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention

Collaborators (co-PI): Sanja Ilic (OSU), Kara Morgan (OSU), Robert Scharff (OSU), Ahmed Yousef (OSU), Sam Kariuki (Kenya Medical Research Institute), Robert Onsare (Kenya Medical Research Institute), Catherine Kunyanga (University of Nairobi), Kathy Colverson (University of Florida), Arie Havelaar (University of Florida)

This project  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.