Integrating Nutrition and Food Safety in Food Systems Policy and Programming

Food safety and nutrition are inextricably linked: to achieve optimal human health and wellbeing, people must be both well-nourished and free from foodborne disease. Despite these linkages, the connections between food safety and nutrition have been largely lacking from existing frameworks for food systems, which tend to treat food safety superficially, as only one sub-component, not integrated throughout. As a result, they do not highlight relevant pathways for integrated action and measurement related to food safety and nutrition. Policy and programming tend to be implemented from either a nutrition standpoint or from a food safety standpoint; the two groups of stakeholders are often non-overlapping, even though both are concerned with improving public health through the food system. This Perspective highlights a set of specific causal pathways through which food safety and nutrition are interlinked (across health and physiology, consumer behavior, supply chains and markets, and policy and regulation). We then build upon these underlying causal mechanisms to discuss areas for action on food safety and nutrition within the food system. Finally, we suggest ways in which better integration of the two issues could take place within policy and programming, including key barriers to doing so.