Stakeholders underlined the importance of a holistic approach and collaboration between sectors to improve food literacy in Turkey….
13 October 2021, Ankara – A Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration Meeting focused on food and nutrition literacy in Turkey was organized on 6 and 8 October to discuss the current status of the Technical Cooperation Project “Support to Risk Communication and Food Literacy” and potential opportunities for improvement.
In reference to the project, Ayşegül Selışık, FAO Turkey Assistant Representative, emphasized that FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry support the development of a common vision and an action plan on food literacy, and are working to establish platforms to enable consumers to access correct information about food and nutrition. Özge İmamoğlu, Head of Department of International Organizations and Zeynep Özkan, Head of Department of European Union Harmonization of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, both underlined the benefits of improving food literacy and increasing public awareness of this topic.
These opening remarks were followed by Aniko Nemeth, FAO Expert on Food Safety and Nutrition, who introduced the project and explained some of the key objectives including enhancing multistakeholder collaboration on food literacy. Nemeth also highlighted the central role of consumers in the transformation of food systems: the main objective of improving food literacy is to enable them to make informed food choices and to achieve better outcomes on nutrition and sustainability.
In her presentation, Şeniz Ilgaz of the Public Health General Directorate of the Ministry of Health introduced the basic concepts of food and nutrition literacy and shared key perspectives in this field from international organizations such as FAO and WHO. Ilgaz also presented best practices on food literacy from around the world, including the European Union, and described some possible avenues for Turkey to improve food literacy. She explained that a number of exciting food literacy-related initiatives exist in the country, but noted that their effectiveness could be increased through better coordination among different stakeholders.
Z. Begum Kalyoncu Atasoy, Faculty Member at Nutrition and Dietetics Department, Istanbul Aydın University, explained the findings of the national review on food and nutrition literacy in Turkey conducted within the scope of the project. An analysis of academic studies and a media review found that consumers need to be educated in order to better understand food labels and that misinformation about food must be tackled by experts in this field. On the basis of these preliminary findings, Atasoy also emphasized the need for further research covering vulnerable groups including immigrants.
Following presentations by the project team, the stakeholders and representatives of ministries, scientific councils, academia and NGOs relevant to the scope of the project, identified priorities, tools and target groups to help improve food literacy in Turkey. The stakeholders also underlined the importance of a holistic approach and collaboration between sectors. By the end of the event, the participants had established a framework for a road map and an action plan for improving food literacy in Turkey.