SHIFTING THE PARADIGM
Shift the paradigm by promoting an integrated, systems-based approach to food safety and the co-benefits to food security and nutrition.
Food safety, food security, food sustainability and nutrition are integrated, dynamic public health challenges that require a proactive approach that takes into consideration the totality of the food system. Yet, policies in these arenas seem to exist in isolation from each other. At a minimum, food is not healthy if it is not safe to eat. Rarely do the fields collaborate on similar public health goals, and there is virtually no discussion of how to balance conflicting goals. This leaves policy makers and regulators without a vision of how to incorporate one field of research with the other in the context of economic and political realities.
Food policy must strike a balance between supporting local agriculture and national food distribution economies while at the same time protecting the public from foodborne illnesses caused by microbiological and chemical contaminants. Sometimes promoting healthier food choices (fresh fruits and vegetables) can pose challenges for protection from foodborne illness, since minimally processed foods have fewer risk-‐reduction interventions in place. On the other hand, many packaged foods have been highly processed to eliminate pathogens, which may result in higher levels of sodium and added sugars, contributing to the development of obesity and diabetes. Similarly, increasing consumer interest in local, sustainable, and organic food has the potential to reduce food deserts, increase access to healthy foods and create significant economic opportunities for rural agricultural areas. Clearly, the diverse interests of a large number of stakeholders, coupled with the economic forces of agriculture, make formulating an integrated food policy challenging.
Given the global nature of our food supply and our increasingly limited resources, it is clear that we need a more holistic and sustainable risk-based approach to food and food safety. This new paradigm must focus on prevention and integrate human, animal and environmental health. Recognizing that improvements in one area will lead to improvements overall, the interconnectedness of human, animal and environmental health is often referred to as “One Health.”
THE CENTER FOR FOODBORNE ILLNESS RESEARCH & PREVENTION | email@example.com