Food gone foul: food safety and security tensions




Martin, Wanda Leigh

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The purpose of this research is to examine how professionals and civil society members engage in food security activities that include food safety precautions and how they work across differences to support a safe and accessible food supply. The objectives are: (a) to explore tensions between those working in community food security and food safety (regulatory authority) and the source of tension; (b) to explore how people experiencing these tensions can improve the way they work together; and (c) to explore potential opportunities for enhancing health equity through food security and food safety programs. Using a case study design, I employ concept mapping and situational analysis as methods, with a complexity science framework. I have illustrated the complex motives behind food safety regulations and examined the neo-liberal agenda favouring market forces over health equity. I have argued that while there is concern for protecting the public’s health, food safety regulations are not set with a primary focus on protecting people from unsafe food, but are a vehicle for providing confidence in the market and among international trading partners, at the cost of health and welfare of small-scale producers in rural and remote communities. I am suggesting change not only in how we view and understand personal motives or worldviews of food and market forces, but also a shift on a larger scale, to change structural conditions to promote health and to encourage a moral obligation to reduce health inequities.



food safety, food security, complex adaptive systems, case study, concept mapping, situational analysis, public health