Safety is almost an asterisk in the Global Food Security Index, recently released by DuPont and the Economist Intelligence Unit. In an overall assessment of the affordability, availability and quality of food, the United States emerges as No. 1 overall, but America was bested by Israel and France in the “quality” category, where food safety was part of the score. No surprises that the U.S., with the largest economy and most productive agricultural sector, is the most food secure country on the planet. Losing the Gold and Silver metals on quality and food safety to Israel and France is a little harder to explain. In the data set for food safety, the U.S. got 99.3 percent while Israel and France both earned a 100 percent score. The composite is supposed to measure “the enabling environment for food safety.” The food safety composite was one of about 16 data sets used to create the Global Food Security Index, which covers 105 countries. The U.S., Denmark and Norway topped the overall rankings, in that order. Commissioned by DuPont, a developer of genetically modified crops, and produced by the data-crunchers at the Economist Intelligence Unit, the new food security index offers a way to compare countries around the globe. “We’ve always known that what get measured, gets done,” said Ellen Kullman, DuPont’s chairman and chief executive officer. “As we talked to governments, NGOs, and farmer organizations around the world, we’ve come to realize that while we share a common goal of food security, we do not share a common language,” she said.  “To truly address the root cause of hunger, we must have a common path forward to tackle such pressing issues as food affordability, availability, quality and safety. “Literally billions are being invested to address food security, but until today, we had no comprehensive, global way to measure food security and the impact of investments and collaborations at the local level.” In less developed countries, people are falling short by about 100 calories a day of the recommended level of 2,300 calories a day, while in developed countries like the U.S. people are not getting enough micronutrients. France is the only exception. National food supplies in developed counties, including the U.S., have “limited availability of vegetal iron,” according to the report. One other area where the U.S, got marked down was for the “volatility” of its agricultural production. France, The Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Finland and Germany round out the overall top ten countries. African counties plus Cambodia and Haiti make up the bottom 25 on the list, including such fast-growing countries as Mozambique, Ethiopia and Rwanda. By some estimates, food prices in the past decade have run at about double the overall inflation date, pushing millions into poverty.

  • David

    In the case of Israel, they have an obesity epidemic too, and people will be brought in line by taxing food a little more heavily. Seems to be a little controversial, what with shekels being stretched in the budget as they always are…
    It is only a 16% VAT on food right now, so there is plenty of room to generate more tax revenue, no?
    To whip obese Israelis into shape the govt calculates an additional 10-30% surtax would be about right…
    That should trim the populace and replenish the coffers, no?
    I understand France lays on some food taxes too, on things like cooking oil and chocolate. I’ve always said Americans are simply not French enough. That’s really the only thing wrong with Americans.
    Looking at the Global Food Security Index, it looks like most of Africa and Southeast Asia isn’t nearly French enough, either. Some of those regions were colonized by the French at one time or another, you’d think a little of the perfection would have rubbed off, wouldn’t you?

  • TP

    100% for Israel and France in Food Safety?
    Beautiful countries, beautiful people.
    “the enabling environment for food safety.” statistically it appears so, but reality is to have been there and seen how it is controlled, control does not measure up to presented data.

  • Nathan

    Taxing Chocolate in France!? Another reason to be thankful to live in America.

  • This is not accurate. France and Israel were not the only countries to “score” 100 points on the food safety scale. Every single EU member country scored 100. I have serious doubts about the significance of the “food safety” component of the GFSI study.

  • Ted

    Everyone should take a moment to peruse the Global Food Security Index. It refreshes one’s perspective relative to food and food systems.
    I was particularly struck by the sheer number of people who live on the brink of food insecurity and especially by the portion of their income spent to feed themselves (as much as 30-50%!). Contrast that stark reality with the mantra of American foodies lobbying against our abundant, safe, affordable food system.
    When so many people in so many regions of the globe are struggling to access safe food they can afford to purchase, Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle and countless lackey disciples are claiming “food is too cheap”, they are complaining food is too readily available…and they are agitating to destroy efficient food production systems and drive up the price of food.
    Now, these are university professors — they are supposed to be educated people. So they cannot claim naive ignorance of the suffering they aim to inflict on over half the world’s population by their elitist demands.
    The marketing of pop-science books notwithstanding, what could explain Pollan’s and Nestle’s fanatic zeal to clamp down on individual choice and drive up food prices unless they are motivated to oppress the less affluent masses who are most vulnerable to their policy scheming? Xenophobia may be too strong a suspicion but a deep and far-reaching autocratic/authoritarian control is certainly their objective. Sort of a “dictators without borders” approach to world order?
    Whatever it is, it stinks to high heaven and our universities should be held accountable for enabling these sorts of zealots. Will higher education be the next big industry scandalized for corruption and influence peddling after Wall Street and the big banks? Sorta shaping up to look like that, isn’t it?

    • Chefleo

      As a chef from NYC visiting France, I am shocked by the lack of food regulation. Although the actual food products may be of superior quality to that of the U.S., the food safety practices that Americans often take for granted are non existent in France. What’s the benefit of having high quality food if there is such a high risk of cross contamination between the source and the table?

  • James E.

    The only reason that good old cheap U.S. food is cheap is because of the particular industrialization of the U.S. food system. While factory production methods might be a good approach to manufacturing — applying them to biological systems (ie farming) creates a whole other set of toxic costs that are routinely externalized to our health and the environment — such as toxic pesticides on and in our food supply; rampant soil erosion; nutrient contamination and pollution of water, soil and air; genetic contamination of seedstocks and superweeds; antibiotic use in factory farms; exploited farmworkers, ETC, ETC…
    When these externalized life-cycle and production costs are counted then our US cheap food is seen as the non-sustainable fiction it really is.
    But the big food corporation foxes have instituted themselves into the henhouses and rule the roost — co-opting any meaningful scrutiny and oversight and filling their coffers via taxpayer subsidies.
    It is this toxic industrialization and corporate takeover of our food system that Pollen, Nestle and the rapidly growing Food Movement are pointing to. At its essence it is promoting Real Choice and transparency in the marketplace — something Agribusiness is deathly afraid of.
    it’s easy to see that Ted’s finger pointing of “far-reaching autocratic/authoritarian control” belongs with the Ag Oligarchs and their minions — and Ted’s trollish finger should really be pointing at himself.

  • vickysecho

    Definetly has to be a skewed report. Ractopimine, chlorination, hormones, GMO, and anitbiotics are mainstream in the US. The US knowingly shipped 160,000 unregulated horses as food to Canada and Mexico. Not to mention the lack of control or regulations on mecury in fish… absurd!

  • chosonnom

    What an utter bullxxxt report. Who printed this article?
    US don’t come close to having safe food. Then why are Americans so obese? Including high rates of heart disease? It is the food. The hell safe food. Give me a break.