In preparation for future planetary exploration, NASA-Johnson Space Center has developed a critical path plan for food and nutrition research needs. The plan highlights the risk factors pertaining to food and nutrition associated with exposure to the space flight environment as well as the possible consequences if no corrective measures are implemented. Included in the plan are the initiating events such as microgravity, remote environment and mission duration, which obviously impact the risk factors. The plan includes points of intervention where mitigating factors can be implemented to avoid outcomes such as malnutrition and unsafe foods. Physiological changes induced by lack of gravity, as well as increased exposure to radiation, may alter nutrient bio-availability and/or nutrient requirements. An inadequate food system, whether due to technical limitations or nutritional shortcomings, can result in serious consequences. Additionally, microbial and chemical food contamination or psychological factors such as depression may lead to insufficient food intake. Critical questions define areas where further research is required to eliminate or ameliorate the risk from each of those factors. These questions delineate priorities for NASA food and nutrition research for planetary exploration missions.