Africafood lossHungernutrition securityopenaccessOpinionPopulationprocessed foodshelf-lifeUrbanisationwasteWorld Food Day

Processed meals has dangerous press, however it’s important for diet safety – #NewsEverything #Africa

Meals processing and the meals trade are sometimes framed in a foul gentle, however for this 12 months’s World Meals Day (16 October) I’d like so as to add some perspective to a couple of the concepts about meals manufacturing (which incorporates the entire worth chain from agricultural manufacturing to the meals in your plate), meals processing, meals and diet safety, sustainability and meals science and know-how.

The world’s inhabitants is estimated to develop to about 9 billion folks by 2050, with an extra one billion folks in Africa by then. An additional enhance to 11 billion folks globally by 2100 is forecast. Urbanisation is about to extend to 78% by 2050 and water can be a extra scarce commodity. We’re confronted with the problem of feeding extra folks in city areas affordably, to scale back starvation and enhance meals and diet safety, however doing so in a sustainable style.

The United Nations says: “Meals and diet safety exists when all folks always have bodily, social and financial entry to meals, which is consumed in enough amount and high quality to satisfy their dietary wants and meals preferences, and is supported by an setting of ample sanitation, well being companies and care, permitting for a wholesome and energetic life.”

Many individuals see meals insecurity merely as a matter of manufacturing extra meals. It isn’t that easy; it requires the fitting varieties of meals to be produced (addressing dietary wants), in the fitting quantities (addressing sufficiency), minimising meals waste, extending shelf-life and making certain the meals is secure.

It’s estimated {that a} third or extra of all meals produced for human consumption (greater than 1.3-billion tonnes) will get misplaced or wasted yearly in creating and developed international locations. These losses are of relevance when decreasing starvation, producing incomes and enhancing meals safety. Meals losses don’t solely have an effect on meals and diet safety, particularly for poor folks, but in addition meals high quality, security, financial growth and the bodily setting.

Causes of meals losses can range from one nation to a different, particular circumstances, varieties of crops, infrastructure, advertising and marketing methods, distribution and customers’ meals use practices (sell-by dates). Meals losses and waste are a lot larger in industrialised and developed international locations. International meals provide chain losses are most likely substantial. So, earlier than we deal with rising meals manufacturing, there’s a have to determine how a lot meals is misplaced and wasted, the place and when it’s wasted and the way we are able to stop it.

In fact, it might be great if we may all eat solely farm recent, hand-grown produce, free-range poultry and meat and non-processed meals. With urbanisation most individuals don’t have the time and area to develop and rear all their very own produce and livestock.

“Organically” grown, pasture-fed, free-range, handmade meals is nutritious, however these come at a worth, which few folks can afford. In our society and in lots of others around the globe, giant numbers of the inhabitants have little or no expendable revenue, a excessive proportion of which is spent on meals. They must feed a household a nutritious meal daily at an inexpensive worth. They have to select between spending all their cash for meals on one or two meals per week or attempt to stretch it and supply meals daily.

That is the place meals processing (extending the shelf-life of merchandise) involves the fore – the aim of it’s to protect meals by extending its shelf-life, the dietary content material and all of the sensory qualities, whereas additionally making certain that it’s secure to eat. Benefits of this are a wider availability of meals all year long, extra geographically unfold, comfort, selection, security and traceability. Meals akin to yoghurt, cheese, milk, pilchards, canned and frozen greens, bread, olive oil, fruit juice, oat porridge, preserves, butter and even a 100% pasture-fed beef patty are all thought-about “processed”. Some is likely to be of higher high quality than others, however we are able to’t say meals processing is dangerous.

Meals processing has additionally allowed us to supply quite a lot of meals with questionable dietary high quality (or lack thereof), and components and preservatives. It’s all these merchandise we should always have faraway from the market. As in some other trade there are unscrupulous gamers the place value and revenue, quite than diet, dictate the ultimate formulation. There isn’t a means we are going to feed the rising world inhabitants with out some processing and preservation – we simply have to make sure it’s achieved with meals and diet safety in thoughts.

Fixing this drawback just isn’t solely the accountability of the meals trade, meals producers and processors. There are various spheres that have to play an element — from major college educators, scientists, entrepreneurs and multinational meals producers to society usually and the federal government to make sure there’s financial progress, so that each citizen can afford to eat wholesome meals.

The views expressed are these of the creator and don’t mirror the official coverage or place of the Mail & Guardian.

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