Eating poor-quality food a public health threat, says Global Panel

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About a third of food produced in the world for human consumption never reaches the consumer’s plate, while more than half of all globally-produced fruits and vegetables getting wasted, and around a fourth of all meat produced, equivalent to 75 million cows, goes uneaten.

According to a new international report, this happens at a time when regularly eating poor-quality food has become a greater public health threat than malaria, tuberculosis or measles, as it is associated with one-in-five deaths across the globe.

The report was published by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, an independent group of influential experts on tackling global challenges in food and nutrition security.

“To tackle all forms of malnutrition and promote healthy diets, we need to put in place food systems that increase the availability, affordability and consumption of fresh, nutrient-rich food for everyone,” said José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General.

The report urged the world for reducing food loss and waste, particularly high-nutrient foods, as it not only has nutritional benefits but also contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Taking specific actions to reduce the losses and waste of fresh and nutritious food is a fundamental part of this effort,” he added.

FAO estimates has put the cost of global food waste at $1 trillion. It said that cutting down on waste would yield major economic benefits, and would avoid wasting the water, land and energy that went into its production.

The report recommended a series of policy measures including educating all concerned; focusing on perishable foods; improving public and private infrastructure; and closing data gaps in food losses and waste.

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