Solution Cluster 1.3.2
Enable food safety innovation and tools
The Solution & the Need: The Food Safety Solutions Centre (the “Centre”) is a financing facility proposed to support two solution areas: (1) food safety innovations (Innovations Facility) that bring new concepts to the point of prototyping for scale and (2) food safety solution and tools adaptation (Solution Accelerator) that can work to adapt existing tool to specific contexts. Both solution areas are dedicated exclusively to meeting the overlooked domestic food safety needs of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The Innovations Facility will support the validation and packaging of a roster of appropriate low-cost food safety innovations. The Solution Accelerator will translate existing tools and guidelines to strengthen governance, apply technologies, and manage food safety risks, and relevant innovations. The innovations and validated tools sponsored by the Centre will be fit-for-purpose and fit for the context of LMICs.
Compared to well-resourced food safety investments for exported goods, food safety in domestic markets has received limited attention, and related initiatives remain modest in scale. Lagging investment in domestic food safety has resulted in limited adoption of existing food safety tools, especially for the informal sector and markets where most fresh, nutritious food is sold. Promising ideas and concepts have stalled at the prototype stage or led to pilot programmes that were not widely accessed, adapted, or adopted in LMIC contexts.
Many ideas proposed by stakeholders (including government and the private sector) throughout the FSS process fall into the category of food safety innovations and solutions. Examples of these are cold chain and packaging solutions; traceability; a retail food safety digital platform; a centralised food donation network; toolkits for home-based food businesses; and an icon to signal safer street food. The Centre will lead the work to develop, evaluate, and adapt these innovations to improve domestic food safety in LMICs.
About this Solution Cluster
The Food Safety Solutions Centre Secretariat would lead the initiative and liaise with bilateral, regional, and multilateral financing donors, national and sub-national governments, private-sector and civil society organisations, and members of the broader technical food safety practitioner community. The Centre could be housed in a single globally mandated organisation or replicated in regional organisations mandated to enable and invest in domestic food safety.
The secretariat would be responsible for administering calls for proposals, receiving ad hoc requests to adapt solutions, managing the jurying and selection process, and disbursing funds. Secretariat staff would be accountable to the host institution, as well as the stakeholders and donors. A panel of international experts would advise the secretariat, provide guidance on calls for proposals, and evaluate initial concepts and full proposals. Panel membership would change with each new call to avoid perceived conflicts of interest.
Crucially, the secretariat would establish a standard evaluation and impact assessment framework, applied across all supported projects. The framework would be shaped by the host organisation’s impact evaluation mechanisms or by a panel of experts.
The Centre would leverage and support existing initiatives enhancing the management of food safety in LMICs. For example, innovative food safety solutions supported by the Centre would complement investments provided by the WTO’s STDF in trade-related food safety capacity-building. It would also draw on food safety knowledge and risk assessment initiatives in the Summit’s other food safety-related solution cluster. Further, the Centre would build on and leverage insights emerging from research consortia (e.g., the CGIAR’s Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health program), foundations, and technical support programs undertaken by FAO, WHO, and the private sector in LMICs (e.g., the GFSI’s Global Markets Program). The adaptation of toolkits and training materials would complement the pool of materials recently developed by several international organisations, including FAO and WHO2.
The Centre’s work would synergise with other initiatives not focused on, but relevant to, food safety. It would complement, for example, UNIDO’s work supporting quality infrastructure (QI) capacity enhancements in LMICs. In many LMICs, a primary focus of QI is preventing food fraud that can be a significant source of food-borne hazards. Furthermore, UNIDO supports the development of food safety-related analysis tools in the context of trade in LMICs. Important synergies can also be realised between this cluster and other on-going programmes, including those acting to mainstream One Health initiatives, strengthen city-region food strategies and policies, and provide policy and other support for informal enterprises and workers.