WORLD

UN Food Systems Summit


Processed, lined food shelves at Canadian supermarkets. Credit: Trevor Page
  • Feedback By Trevor Page (Lethbridge, Canada)
  • Inter Press Service

Adulteration is a serious problem, especially in developing countries where regulatory bodies are weak. Food is considered adulterated when a substance is added that reduces its quality or makes it dangerous. It can change its color to look more beautiful, or add chemical preservatives. Adding sand particles, pebbles and other foreign substances to grains and pulses to reduce weight is also considered adulterated. So water is being mixed with milk and oil with chemical derivatives or cheap oil.

Many southern countries around the world will be helped to develop their food safety regulations as well as inspection systems and enforcement. Many food processing industries start on small scales, cottage sizes, and often in backyards or dinghy premises. They are reluctant to hire food technologists because it involves additional costs and they are skeptical about controlling the organization.

Codex Elementarias was founded by FAO and WHO in the early 1960s. It is a collection of internationally recognized standards, codes of practice and guidelines regarding food and its production, labeling and safety. Although 189 countries were members of the Codex Elementary Commission in 2021, the organization does not have a regulatory authority. Like many UN efforts and standards, the Codex Elementarius is a reference guide, not a standard applicable to itself. Several countries, however, have adopted it as part of their own rules. More is needed for this. But not everyone is happy with Codex Elementarius. Some respected critics, including Vandana Shiva, claim that its codified policies are designed solely in the interests of global agribusiness and to undermine the rights of farmers and consumers.

Cost

We eat when we are hungry. Food is the fuel that gives us energy and keeps us fit and healthy. (Sadly, about 1 billion of us do not have enough to eat and need food aid. This will be commented on in the next article in this series.)

Globally, food consumption has been on the rise for more than 50 years. Rich countries consume the most calories, but encouragingly, the biggest increase in calorie intake has been in low-income countries. The two main reasons for the increase in food intake are economic development and our growing population. As people get richer, they can afford to eat more. People in Belgium and the United States consume about 3800 calories per day, while in Ethiopia and Haiti there are about 2000 calories per day. In rich countries, high levels of food waste occur because people buy more food than they need. Fast food and food advertising also increases food costs in rich countries. As the global population continues to grow, more food is being fed there. The United Nations expects the world’s population to reach 10 billion by 2050.

Supply chain

A food supply chain is the process between farm production and our dining table. The food we eat goes from producer like our Domino to the consumer, while consumers are paid for food for those who work in reverse along the chain at different stages. When a part of the supply chain is damaged, the whole chain is affected and can break down like a domino. Kovid-1 has disrupted the supply chain around the world, both in terms of food availability and price. Extreme and erratic weather as a result of climate change will pose a major threat to the food supply chain in the future.

Damage and waste

About one-third of all food produced worldwide for human consumption is wasted. According to the FAO, this is about 1.3 billion metric tons per year. In addition to pre-harvest losses, 14% of all food produced is wasted in crops and retail, and a significant amount is also wasted in retail and cost levels. In the case of fruits and vegetables, it is estimated that there will be more than 20% losses per year. The water used to grow the food that is wasted represents %% of the total water extraction.

According to the World Bank, without urgent action, global waste will increase by 70% to current levels by 2050. East Asia and the Pacific are responsible for one-fourth of all waste production. And by 2050, waste production in sub-Saharan Africa will more than triple, and waste in South Asia will more than double. The World Bank says plastics are particularly problematic. “If not properly collected and managed, they will contaminate and affect waterways and ecosystems for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.”

Clearly, there is much to be done to make this part of our food system more efficient and less harmful to human health as well as reduce damage and waste.

Trevor Page, A resident of Lethbridge, Canada, former emergency director of the World Food Program. He has worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the FAO, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UNHCR, and currently the United Nations Department of Political and Peace Building.

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal Source: Inter Press Service





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