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Why Food Safety Matters In Establishing Food Security And Achieving The Sustainable Development Goals

World Food Day was the 16th of October and as the foodservice industry we are part of actions and activities helping to feed those in need of food. This should not only be our task on World Food Day but should constitute part of our social responsibility policy and actions every day.  The foodservice industry needs to strengthen their actions and support the principles that are applied to achieve the

Sustainable Development Goals:

  • SDG 2 – achieving zero hunger; and
  • SDG 3 – achieving health and wellbeing for all.

The question is why we as the foodservice industry need to get involved and contribute to efforts of addressing hunger and achieving health and wellbeing for all. Hunger is not just that your stomach rumbles before dinner, in many parts of the world it is a real frightening issue where there is just no prospect of eating the next meal. Every day 815 million people live in hunger according to the United Nations (UN) and by 2050 a further two billion people will be undernourished. This situation where food is scarce and people are hungry is what food insecurity entails.

The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.

As the foodservice industry our responsibility and commitment is even greater as we have the ability and can contribute to providing safe food, we can ensure that food waste is addressed so that excess food can be redistributed and we can work towards providing nutritious food, which will contribute to the health and well-being of society. The challenge is how do we achieve this? As food insecurity is a global challenge that needs to be met locally and globally, solutions need to be more far reaching than just in our own immediate environment.

Food security is also influenced by the resilience to future disruption or unavailability of critical food supply due to such factors such as environmental issues for example droughts, distribution and supply chain issues, fuel and water shortages, financial instability and wars. In South Africa we are subjected to many of these issues and therefore as members of the foodservice industry, we need to have policies and plans in place to meet these challenges and assist in the local and ultimately the global challenges of providing food security.

Food safety and food security are interrelated and both have a profound impact on the quality of life, therefore a major part of establishing food security is assuring that food is safe from a chemical, physical and biological aspect. Within this context, food safety must be the enabler and not the inhibitor of food security. Thus, how do we as the foodservice industry meet the challenges of contributing to local and global food security? We can partake in the following development and trends related to food safety that may impact on the food sector and on the ability of the foodservice industry to establish food security by:

  • Applying advances in science and technology  – to meet consumer demands for nutrition, convenience based on research and technology
  • Appropriate packaging of foods – to keep food safe and protected in a food market where supply chains are getting longer
  • Tracing and tracking of goods – to be able to trace affected products locally and globally in the case of foodborne illness
  • Information and computing technology –  to carefully communicate to the general public regarding risk factors and food safety
  • Big data analysis – to facilitate advancements in global food safety, food quality and sustainability.

These actions may help in mitigating challenges and meeting demands of food provision in the foodservice environment.  Policies, standards, regulations, guidelines, education and advice relating to food are continuously being developed and or updated in the global food space.  Such developments need to be aligned and supportive of an improved and more efficient food sector and incorporated into the goods and services we deliver to our customers therefore establishing a more effective and efficient food chain.

The challenge ultimately remains with us as the foodservice industry to inform our customers about food safety, nutrition and the prevention of waste to avoid confusion regarding the establishment of wellbeing and food security. Food security is reliant on providing access to sufficient amounts of safe food. Without food safety, we cannot have food security and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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