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Nutrition Security and Food Safety

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics believes that systematic and sustained action is needed to achieve food and nutrition security and that effective policy, system and environmental changes can help realize this goal in the United States and abroad.

Impact Goals:

  • Advocate for equitable access to safe and nutritious food and water
  • Advance sustainable nutrition and resilient food systems

A sustainable, resilient and healthy food system helps ensure that individuals have equitable access to a safe and secure supply of food and water that supports optimal health.107,108 Multilevel factors and events contribute to high rates of food insecurity and risks to food safety, including the COVID-19 pandemic,109 climate change,110-114 rising health care and food costs,115,116,117 growing socioeconomic inequality118 and conflicts in international settings.119,120 Now more than ever, the Academy believes that food and nutrition security and food safety must be prioritized across all sectors to meet the Academy's vision of a world where all people thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition121 and to achieve the goals of ending hunger and improving nutrition set forth in the 2022 White House National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health.122,123

Food and Nutrition Security

Individuals across the world experience food insecurity,119 including approximately 33.8 million people who live in food-insecure households in the United States.124 Food and nutrition insecurity disproportionately affect certain communities, such as Black, Indigenous and people of color,106,118 people living with disabilities and other chronic conditions,118 people experiencing homelessness,125 households headed by single individuals,124 children,124 college students,126,127 older adults,128 sexual minorities154 and refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons.120,129 Food insecurity can lead to negative outcomes across the life span, including inadequate intake of key nutrients,155,156 lowered academic achievement,126,130,131 increased risk for chronic disease,132 reduced psychological and cognitive functioning and poor overall well-being.133,134

To achieve food and nutrition security, effective and sustained interventions addressing social determinants of health157 are necessary.113,132 Investments should include efforts to strengthen and expand domestic135 and global food and nutrition programs136 that help achieve food and nutrition security and ensure sustainable, resilient and healthy food and water systems.108,132 Additionally, the Academy supports advocating for fair wages, appropriate benefits, fair housing policies and safe working conditions to address economic instability, poverty and unemployment disproportionately affecting communities of color and other underserved communities.107,113,118,132,137 Investing in the redesign of the food and nutrition environments where Americans work, shop, learn, eat, play and worship is necessary to increase access to affordable, nutritious foods in both urban and rural areas.106,132 Additionally, it is essential to ensure equitable access to quality health care157 and nutrition services by integrating health care and community services.138

Access to medical nutrition therapy is one tool that can help prevent, manage and treat a wide range of chronic conditions associated with food insecurity that have disproportionately impacted communities of color.132 For more information on nutrition care and health systems, refer to the Nutrition Care and Health Systems Statement section above.

Further research is needed to fully develop the concept and measurement of nutrition security and how it relates to food security,139 understand how nutrition security is driving health care costs,140 and develop effective interventions and policies that address food and nutrition security while confronting structural racism and prioritizing equity.141,142 Additionally, to mitigate global food insecurity, effective strategies and improved policies are needed to address the estimated 30% to 50% of the global food supply that is lost or wasted.108,110,119,143,144,145

Food Safety

Food safety, sustainability and nutrition security are interconnected issues.146 Global food and nutrition security is threatened by our changing climate, which affects food safety by introducing new vectors and greater risk of food contamination and causes supply chain disruptions and agricultural production issues.110 While the incidence of foodborne illness declined during the pandemic due to heightened public health measures,147 approximately 9 million Americans are affected each year.148 Increases in the number antimicrobial resistant pathogens as well as pathogens that cause foodborne illness149 continue to pose risks, particularly among underresourced and vulnerable populations including children, pregnant persons, older adults and people who are immunocompromised.

To react to and prevent future foodborne outbreaks, the Academy supports evidence-based food and water safety regulations and recommendations, including those that mandate labeling, improve traceability, make it easier to recall products and ensure proper oversight, infrastructure and sustainability150 overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service,151 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration152 and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.153

The Academy is strongly committed to improving the nation's access to safe and nutritious food and water and advancing sustainable nutrition and resilient food systems through systematic and sustained action.

See references.

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