Published on November 23rd, 2022 | by Kritika Gupta


Local Nutrition: “Food Safety Is a Pillar of Food Security”

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that “there is no food security without food safety.”
If you think about it, food security is all about providing access to safe food, which can help individuals to thrive against hunger as well as malnutrition. Despite much emphasis on hunger and food security, food safety is often left out of the limelight. But what is safe food? Food is considered to be safe when it is free from chemicals and ingredients that are not permitted and consumers are fully aware of potential allergens, which should be declared on food labels.

Even when food industries try their best to adhere to food safety regulations, sometimes allergens are discovered after the products have reached market shelves, and sometimes consumers’ tables. When regulating agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspects of a potential threat to food safety, they issue food recalls and withdrawals.

So, when was the last time you came across a food product that was recalled? How often do you keep up with food products impacted by undeclared allergens or the presence of harmful bacteria or viruses? Why should you care? In the United States, the FDA is responsible to regulate products for their safety, and to ensure that the products do not lead to unintended harm. Food recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts can happen for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Undeclared allergens such as milk, wheat, eggs, soy, shellfish, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc. The Food Safety and Inspection Service claims that “undeclared allergens account for 90 percent of all food allergic reactions.” Within past two weeks, Big Sky Bread Company’s chocolate chunk granola and chocolate chunk peanut butter chip granola were recalled because of presence of undeclared milk. Around 1.9 percent of children in the United States are allergic to milk.
  2. Contaminations such as Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, etc. Several cheese products were recalled in the past few months with potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes.
  3. Other reasons. For example, Nestle’s Toll House Edible chocolate chip cookie dough was recalled for potential for soft plastic film.

Not only does FDA regulate food product safety, but also drug safety. For example, in November 2022, hand sanitizer (Brand: Adam’s Polishes) was recalled for presence of methanol. It is critical to understand the importance of being aware and updated with recalled and market withdrawals to ensure your own safety. If you haven’t “turned on notifications” for FDA or any of the regulating agencies’ social media for safety alerts, I urge you to visit the FDA website at least on a weekly basis. Here is a link that you should bookmark on your browser:

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About the Author

Dr. Kritika Gupta holds Ph.D. in Nutrition. She currently works at the Center for Research Evaluation at the University of Mississippi. She is passionate about community-centered health promotion projects, health education projects, social determinants, and food insecurity research. Dr. Gupta gave TEDx talk "Resilience to Hunger" in 2020 and it is available on YouTube.

2 Responses to Local Nutrition: “Food Safety Is a Pillar of Food Security”

  1. Pingback: Dr. Kritika Gupta on nutrition: tripledemia: can we protect ourselves? – hoyasdog

  2. Pingback: Dr. Kritika Gupta on Nutrition: Tripledemic – Can We Protect Ourselves? - Health Reporter

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