The Nexus Between Nutrition, Food Safety and Food Security

The Nexus Between Nutrition, Food Safety and Food Security

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Ethiopia, October 13, 2021

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there is no food security without food safety. Access to safe and nutritious food is a basic human right. Yet every year around the world, over 420,000 people die and some 600 million people (almost one in ten) fall ill after eating contaminated food (FAO, the Future of Food Safety). Challenges to ensuring food safety is an essential dimension of food security. To address this issue a webinar on “the nexus between nutrition, food safety and food security” was co-organized by the National Information Platform for Nutrition (NIPN), the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Introduction: Dr. Aregash Samuel, NIPN Ethiopia National Coordinator, Researcher at the Food Science and Nutrition Research Directorate, EPHI

Moderator: Cornelia van Zyl, Senior Technical and Policy Advisor at IFPRI in support of the NIPN Speaker: Prof. Mogessie Ashenafi, Ph.D., FTWAS. Professor of Food Microbiology, Center for Food Security Studies, College of Development Studies, Addis Ababa University.

Panelists: Dr. Ferew Lemma, Senior Advisor, Office of the State Minister (Programs), Federal Ministry of Health; Ato Wendafrash Abera, Technical Advisor on Food Safety and Nutrition at Ethiopian Food and Drug Authority.

“Food security exists when all people at all times have economic, physical and social access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” said professor Mogessie Ashenafi (AAU) in his presentation on the nexus between nutrition/ food safety and food security. He added availability, access, utilization, and stability as the four pillars of food security. However, in most cases, safety and nutrition, the vital component of food security, are undermined. As a result, there has been a shift in policy focus from access to consuming safe and nutritious food. Considering the multifaceted connection between food safety and nutrition, professor Mogessie stressed the need for environmental sanitation, adequate health facilities, sufficient and caring practice for vulnerable parts of the society.

Mr. Wendafrash Abera and Dr.Ferew Lemma, reflected on the Ethiopian food safety regulation and linkage to the Food System respectively. Mr. Wendafrash said adulteration, use of chemical as raw material, illegal food trade, climate change and increase in foodborne disease are some of challenges related to food safety in Ethiopia. He called for sectoral collaboration, expansion of infrastructure, accredited food laboratories and strengthening food safety regulation. Dr. Ferew presented the pathway for Ethiopian food system from the challenges of food safety to the game changing ideas. He presented the prioritized 22 innovative game changing solutions related to food safety and security in Ethiopia. Moving forward, Dr. Ferew remarked the importance of having a recent country specific evidence on food safety and foodborne diseases and its impact in the country. He added the need for a “one health approach” to strengthen food safety.

The session ended with a lively question and answer session. The webinar brought together 52 participants from different sectors, including policymakers, academia, researchers, development partners and NGOs. To access the webinar presentations, please click HERE, and for the summary of the Q&A session, HERE.

The NIPN is a multisectoral initiative supported by the European Union, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The NIPN in Ethiopia is housed at EPHI, receives technical assistance from IFPRI under its Compact2025 initiative. The NIPN promotes evidence-based decision making for nutrition and supports the implementation of the National Food and Nutrition Policy.