Food Security and Food Sciences

*Corresponding author: Malik Altaf Hussain

Author Affiliations

Centre for Food Research and Innovation, Lincoln University, New Zealand

Citation

Hussain MA. Food security and food
sciences. Adv Food Technol Nutr Sci
Open J
. 2014; SE(1): Se1-Se2

Copyright

© 2014 Hussain MA. This is an
open access article distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution
License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided
the original work is properly
cited.

Abstract

Food security features as one of the dynamic and complex challenge that the humanity

Food security features as one of the dynamic and complex challenge that the humanity  ever faced in its history. Before talking about inter-relationship between food security and food  sciences, it would be worthwhile to review the most accepted definitions of both terms.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): ‘Food Security’ exists  when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious  food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

According to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT): ‘Food Science’ is the discipline  in which biology, physical sciences, and engineering are used to study the nature of foods,  the causes of their deterioration, and the principles underlying food processing.

Analysis of the nature of global food security challenge reveals that it is associated  with several other issues; increasing world population, changing diet patterns, falling water  tables, growing number of hungry individuals, deteriorating agriculture soils, decreasing agriculture  yields, climate change, and running short of time. Yes, we are just over seven billion  now and will be nine billion by 2050 on the same size planet – the earth. In other words, the  world population clock is ticking continuously and every second passed adding to our total  number dwelling on the earth. Therefore, complexity of this challenge demands urgent measures  rather to assume that the food crisis situation will develop after couple of decades in 2030  or 2050. A single event that may create large scale emergency such as poor harvest in a vast  region, drought or famine would be enough to disrupt the world food supply, thus could force  thousands of families to go hungry and end up with life threatening situation, i.e., severe malnutrition  or even death.

A time when world is heading toward potential shortage of food for human consumption,  the news about possibilities to increase productivity and yields is grim. Agricultural productivity  is vulnerable and poor crop and livestock yields are predicted due to several factors  – climate change is one of the major one. Many reports have pointed out that climate change  will alter the stability of food supplies and create new food security challenges as the world  seeks to feed nine billion people by 2050.

The solution of food security challenge requires world to ensure supply of sufficient,  safe and nutritious food to everyone on our planet. This is not a simple task and multiple sectors  – science and education, research and development, social, political and regulatory changes  need to move forward in a systematic and synchronised manner. Food science as a discipline  has a lot to offer by maintaining the stability of food supply. A better understanding of the  nature of changes in food with climate change could inform us more appropriate processing  technologies. Therefore, food science and allied disciplines have a role to play in food process  innovation, food safety and quality improvement and an efficient supply chain development.  This will ultimately contribute to the availability of more and safe foods for a longer time period.

One example how food science will be able to improve food security is removing  the food allergens through food processing. This could put more food on table for people with specific conditions such as lactose or gluten intolerant. Another example where food science seems a major contributor is reducing  the food wastage through improvement in food safety and quality as well as improved utilization. According to the United Nations,  approximately 1.3 billion tons of food (about a third of the world’s food supply) was wasted in 2013. A reduction in this wastage will  help to decrease the number of hungry individuals – currently 1.2 billion people are facing hunger and extreme poverty.

This special edition of Advances in Food Technology and Nutritional Sciences – Open Journal on “Food Security and Food  Sciences” aims to highlight the food security challenge from a different angle and look at the possible ways offered by food sciences  to address the issues impacting it. I also plan to contribute an article on ‘Food Product Innovation and Safety: Vital Elements of the  Global Food Security’. We know there are many approaches that are suggesting the remedies of the potential food crisis situations  at the moment. These approaches include: addressing global warming, droughts and climate change; increasing food productions;  reduction in the world population growth; modernizing governmental policies; managing the fluctuation in food markets; and so on.  Food science is a key player in new developing approach, which emphasizes to improve food systems and utilization through food  product innovation, better food supply chain, preservation and storage as well as effective food safety management. I am optimistic  about opportunity this special edition brings to us for presenting our position in tackling this global issue as food science professionals.