Food safety and security has become a major concern for consumers. As consumers, we trust the food that we eat is safe, disease-free and contains the nutrients stated on the food label or packaging. We trust that the growth, processing and delivery of the food stuffs to be healthy and does not pose any short or long-term health consequences.
Endangering food practices in the recent past have made consumers aware that their life and health are in the hands of food packaging plants and commercialised businesses that may or may not have your best interest as their first priority.
What is food security?
The concept of food security encompasses both physical and economic access to food that meets people's dietary needs in a safe and effective manner. In many countries, health problems related to poor dietary standards are an ever increasing threat. In fact, food-induced malnutrition and foodborne diarrhoea are becoming a significant health burden.
Food security is built on three pillars according to the World Health Organisation (WHO):
Food availability: sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis.
Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.
Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation.
Food security is a complex issue as the production, distribution and consumption of foodstuffs require an integrated role of all parties involved. It is complicated with the global economy and the changing environmental demands on agriculture and the use of lands.
Food security is really a misnomer. A better name may be food insecurity. Many farmers are no longer able to feed themselves let alone feed the rest of society. If the production of food is sufficient, society then relies on the delivery, transportation and processing of goods. It's a complex problem.
The global food prices have hit record highs as the cost of production, distribution and processing have increased. The impact is global and it has sparked civil unrest and even inflation in an already challenged global economy.
The number one priority of food security is food availability regardless of climate change, changing dietary habits or increased demands based on population growth.
Without food, we starve and do not have a chance to be healthy. This places a significant burden on healthcare services as they are greatly underserved in many regions affected by poor food production and distribution.
Micro-organisms causing major problems
Many of us have heard of the devastating health effects of salmonella. Salmonella outbreaks have been seen in contaminated eggs, meats, vegetables, milk and even chocolate. The contamination commonly occurs in the processing and packaging of the food items.
The contamination often goes