Food for thought

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Food safety has never been in the public eye so much as it is now. Price volatility and global economic insecurity are pushing more people across the world into food poverty. People struggling to feed a family turn to a calorie-rich, nutrient-poor “value” diet.

But what makes this food affordable? The issue came to a head in Europe earlier this year in the self-explanatory “horsemeat scandal”, where it was reported that cheap meat was being passed between five or six different companies and countries before being labelled beef.

BioMed Central’s journals already publish important research on quality control and food safety. Most recently, Investigative Genetics published this research article on how mislabelled meat also affects South African game farming, while Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica published a study into the spread of  Escherichia coli in broiler chickens.

However, as the recent scandal shows, the globalization of food has caused problems that need to be addressed at the international level. In the same way healthcare is now framed in terms of public health, so food safety needs to be addressed politically as well as scientifically, to ensure the health of entire populations.

Our public health and nutrition journals are already exploring this issue, ranging from the individual in Nutrition Journal (how dietary fats can reduce arsenic load), to the regulatory, such as this study from Globalization and Health investigating how effective US inspections are at ensuring imported vegetables meet national pesticide guidelines.

We are issuing a call for papers for articles investigating issues of food safety for health. Selected articles will be added to a new thematic series. The series includes articles from Globalization and Health, Nutrition Journal, Agriculture & Food Security, Investigative Genetics, Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica and Irish Veterinary Journal. For further information, visit the series page.