Development and validation of a food safety system performance tool for African countries

Objectives Tools for monitoring the performance of food safety systems can guide countries’ investments on food safety. Available tools, mostly developed in high-income countries, are data-demanding and unsuitable to developing economies. We developed, tested and validated a tool for the assessment of food safety system performance based on secondary data. Materials and methods Conceptualization of the Food Safety System Performance Tool (FSSPT) was based on revision of existing tools and expert consultations to identify relevant indicators. Nine indicators were included in the tool (Figure 1). Secondary data were obtained for African countries, and countries were ranked. The scale and its consistency tool were evaluated using Cronbach’s alpha and an Item Response Theory (IRT) model was fitted to explore the discriminatory ability of the scale. As a form of validation, we explored the correlation between the ranking generated by the FSSPT, the African Food Safety Index (AFSI) and Human Development Index (HDI) for African countries. Results Cronbach’s alpha was high for the overall scale (0.73). The final IRT model contained a reduced set of four indicators, with self-reporting on food safety and chemical events being the items with the highest discrimination. The FSSPT scale did not correlate with AFSI and showed moderate correlation with HDI. Conclusion Despite the reduced set of indicators working well as a scale, the FSSPT seems to be measuring a more general country development trait rather than food safety. More food safety-specific indicators should be included in the scale.