September 30, 2014

Food Safety: We’re Number Three!

The Global Food Security Index, developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit, was released last week by Dupont. The Index looks at three core issues in 105 countries: affordability, availability, and quality, which includes food safety.

Affordability is measured as a share of total household expenditures, the percentage of the population that is under the global poverty line, gross domestic product per capita, and presence of safety net programs. Availability includes sufficiency of supply, public spending on agricultural research and development, agricultural infrastructure, and political instability. Finally, quality and safety are measured by diet diversification, nutritional standards, micronutrient availability, protein quality, and food safety.

The United States had an overall score of 89.5 out of 100, with 13.9% of total household expenditures used on food. While the U.S. scored a 93.2 on affordability and 87.3 on availability, quality and safety were measured at 86.6. Israel ranked number one in quality and safety, with 88.5, and France was number two, with a score of 88.2. In the data set for just food safety, Israel and France scored 100, while the U.S. scored 99.3.

But the report states that the nations that are the most “food secure” score lower on micronutrient availability. Out of the top ten countries overall, only France is in the top ten for micronutrient availability.

Overall, the report says the strains on the food system are getting worse. Leo Abruzzese, Global Forecasting Director at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said “with the rise of emerging markets and greater consumption of raw materials, food products, and others, the strains on the food system are only going to get worse. We know that when food prices have risen, ten, twenty, forty million people at a time are driven below the poverty line because of food insecurity.”

Professor Eileen Kennedy from┬áthe Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University said that “an index that not only talks about a ranking of countries, but more importantly looks at the underlying causes of food insecurity, is going to be critical to good policy development.” She added, “food security is absolutely the foundation of good health and good nutrition, and all our other efforts to improve nutritional status worldwide will not succeed unless we can eliminate food insecurity.”

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