Food Safety and Food Security: Mapping Relationships
Food safety regulations designed for industrial-scale food producers can create insurmountable challenges when applied to small-scale food producers. These challenges can make for a frustrating environment for food consumers, producers, and regulators, at times leading to tensions between food producers and people working in food safety. The objective of this study was to identify ways to reduce these tensions and promote intersectoral collaboration. We used concept mapping, a structured, participatory, mixed-method approach, to solicit ideas and synthesize input from those working in food safety and food security. We sent invitations to 96 individuals working in food safety or food security, and 50 completed the online concept mapping. Twenty-three participated in categorizing and ranking all the resulting statements. The findings were 'mapped' into six clusters: (1) communicating, (2) understanding intent, (3) educating, (4) understanding risk and regulation, (5) recognizing scale, and (6) enhancing partnerships. We further reduced these six clusters into three categories: "relationships," "education," and "context." Although there are no quick or easy ways to ease tensions between those working in food safety and food security, we suggest four practical ways to ease tensions to ensure safe and accessible food: (1) a collaborative group at a high regulatory level that shares authority is needed; (2) building relationships across disciplines should be considered as part of public health work; (3) regulatory documents should be written in plain language; and (4) food safety regulations should account for differences in scale of production with supportive resourcing.
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