Articles / Newsletter

Importance of food sustainability during a pandemic
Date 13-Oct-2020 | Category | Author Letters, News Straits Times
Providing customers with affordable, safe and nutritious food in a sustainable manner has become Crucial particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.  - File Pic
Providing customers with affordable, safe and nutritious food in a sustainable manner has become Crucial particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. - File Pic

LETTERS: The biggest challenge among food practitioners during a pan demic is providing safe, affordable and nutritious food for all in a sustainable manner.

They need to respond to global economic changes, environmental pressure and shifting attitudes towards food safety and security concerns.

Providing high quality with affordable price for consumers was the main issue highlighted by the United Nations under Goal2: The Zero Hunger Challenge — with the objective to ensure all people, in particular the poor and vulnerable, access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, all year around.

This can be achieved via a good food system (FS) involving production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2014 had listed three main concerns in sustainable food system (SFS) to ensure no compromise in generating food security and nutrition for future generations:

1. Economic sustainability (profitable throughout);

2. Social sustainability (broad-based benefits); and environmental sustainability (positive or neutral impact on natural environment).

As for current trends, 2020 looks like a quarantine year with an inevitable situation, the devastation in terms of employment whilst home food producers via online food distribution became the main protagonist.

Indeed, food e-commerce may become a privileged channel for unsafe food.

Therefore, responsibilities and enforcement powers in food online platforms need to be cleared to stem and eliminate putting human health at risk.

Food handling course with typhoid vaccine as stipulated in the Food Hygiene Regulation 2009 should be adopted as a mandatory course for all food handlers, including chefs selling home-cooked meals.

Some organisers have provided approved online/onsite food handling training courses by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and local councils that can be accessed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With this course, food handlers will be well-versed with Good Food Hygiene, Food Safety and Food-borne Illnesses topics.

It is mandatory for food manufacturers to obtain any certification of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) or 'Makanan Selamat Tanggungjawab Industri' (MeSTI).

To achieve sustainable targets by minimising waste, researchers are now debating about innovations that meet consumers choices or using new technologies for extending the shelf life of food, including fresh produces during its journey to our plates.

In Britain, high amount of funding such as European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is supporting The Greater Lincolnshire Agri-Food Innovation Platform (GLAFIP) with demonstrated consultations, applied research, innovation, knowledge and activities for food industries.

Locally, there are innovation grants available under the Public-Private Research Network, Ministry of Higher Education and Inno Fund under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Dr Ruzaina Ishak

Senior LecturerFaculty of Health and Life Sciences, Management and Science University (MSU)

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