Food safety at the heart of food system transformation

Photo: Prasad

Consumption of unsafe food by low-income populations stems from a combination of factors including high exposure to environmental contaminants, poor access to potable water, cohabitation with animals amongst many others. Maize harvest, Ranikot-Mandi, Himachal Pradesh.

Abstract: Unsafe food does not nourish, it harms. Food cannot be considered nutritious if it is not safe. Harmful effects of unsafe food would make it impossible to achieve desired nutrition objectives. Thus, food, if not safe, is not food. While this argument may seem straightforward, given the paucity of evidence and data on foodborne illnesses, food safety receives little attention. It only comes into focus during major outbreaks of foodborne diseases (FBD) causing death, scandals involving deliberate food adulteration, trade bans or widespread consignment rejection due to noncompliance to standards of importing countries. The fact is food safety is a serious public health concern and is central to building a nation’s health.

The author is Co-Chair, Food Safety Group, UN Food Systems Summit 2021. Formerly CEO, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), New Delhi. The article should be cited as Agarwal P. 2021. Food Safety at the Heart of Food System Transformation, Geography and You, 21(147): 44-49.

Term Power

What is ...

It is the second Sustainable Development Goal, set by the United Nations in 2015 that aims to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk regions. A profound change in the global food and agriculture system is needed to achieve this. Increasing agricultural productivity and sustainable food production is crucial to help alleviate the perils of hunger.

This can be defined as a process to increase the bioavailability and the concentration of nutrients in crops through both conventional plant breeding and recombinant DNA technology (genetic engineering).

Brix measurement can be taken in a hand-held device that determines pure sucrose content in water. The Brix scale is used to measure sugar content in substances such as soft drinks, fruit juices and tomato concentrates.

Farmers who operate under structural constraints such as access to sub-optimal amounts of resources, technology and markets are collectively called smallholder farmers. Smallholdings are those farms with a low asset base and operating in less than 2 hectares of cropland.

The Codex Alimentarius, or "Food Code" is a collection of standards, guidelines and codes of practice adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The Commission, also known as CAC, is the central part of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme and was established by FAO and WHO to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade.

CSA is an integrated approach to managing landscapes—cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries--that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change.

A sum of actors and interactions along the food value chain—from input supply and production of crops, livestock, fish, and other agricultural commodities to transportation, processing, retailing, wholesaling, and preparation of foods to consumption and disposal as also enabling policy environments and cultural norms around food.

This is an international nomenclature for the classification of products. It allows participating countries to classify traded goods on a common basis for customs purposes. At the international level, the Harmonized System (HS) for classifying goods is a six-digit code system.

It is about rebuilding agriculture through science and providing the know-how to governments about environmental governance and rule of law, transforming the finance and economic sectors and leveraging the power of digital technologies. ||