Foodborne diseases and public health governance: comparing food safety, consumer preferences and governance in the supply of meat to urban markets

  • Gil, Ana Isabel (CoPI)
  • Yucra, Dora (CoPI)
  • Ebata, Ayako (CoPI)
  • Barnett, Inka (CoPI)
  • Ton, Giel (CoPI)
  • Fort, Ricardo (CoPI)
  • Guitian, Javier (Investigador principal)
  • Pereira Mateus, Ana Luisa (CoPI)
  • Gonzales Gustavson, Eloy Anibal (CoPI)
  • Yabar, Fredy (CoPI)

Proyecto: Investigación

Detalles del proyecto


We will study the safety of chicken meat and beef, how poor people access these meats and how can their safety be improved to increase people's nutrition and health in Peru.

We have chosen to study meat because 1) meat is an excellent source of high-quality protein and nutrients (especially important for children and adolescents), but 2) consumption of meat is often associated with foodborne illness, in particular in low- and middle-income countries such as Peru. The synergistic interactions of diarrhoea and undernutrition are well recognized and young children are particularly vulnerable. In Peru, diarrhoea is one of the most common illness for children, causing long-lasting malnutrition, and problems in infants' and children's health. For adults, these diseases lead to illness and at times death. Therefore, it is important to understand how safe meat products are in Peru, from whom poor people buy meats, and how the quality of meats poor people consume can be improved.

We will study three kinds of meat vendors: supermarkets, wet markets, and street vendors. Peruvian people buy much of their everyday food from wet markets and street vendors. However, supermarkets are becoming important as well. Even though research to date assumes that supermarkets sell better quality and safer meat, this has not been proven. Policy makers across the world have suggested moving from traditional wet markets to supermarkets in order to improve food safety. We need research to first test whether food safety differs across the types of vendors and identify the best ways to improve meat safety for all citizens, including poor consumers and farmers who supply traditional markets. We will conduct research in three medium-sized cities in Peru. We selected these cities because they receive chicken and beef from different parts of Peru and outside of Peru. We will conduct our research with people who are involved with production and consumption of chicken and beef. More specifically, we want to answer the following questions:

1. What are the food safety risks of locally supplied meat by small-scale farmers compared with imported meat or meat produced by large-scale farmers?

2. How are food safety risks perceived and addressed by farmers, traders, processors, food vendors and poor urban consumers? How do consumers perceive the link to their/their children's nutritional health?

3. What food hygiene measures can improve safety of meat sourced from different supply chains?

4. What governance models can improve food safety and public health without disrupting local food production?

We will first study what laws exist in Peru that ensure food safety in supermarkets, wet markets and street vendors. Then, we will ask vendors how they obtain their meats, from whom, what they think about meat safety, and how they ensure food safety when selling meats. We will evaluate what vendor practices can increase food safety risks, and biologically test if certain pathogens that cause human illness exist in meats. We will use one type of bacteria meat safety indicator: E.coli and the enterotoxigenic strain E.coli 0157:H7 is one of the major meat-borne pathogen causing colitis and haemolytic-uremic syndrome in children, it shares exposure routes with other common foodborne gastrointestinal pathogens and its presence (of E.coli itself, not necessarily enterotoxigenic) can be used as hygiene indicator along the food chain.

We will use simulation models to test the impact of potential controls and will ask consumers and other actors how they think about food safety and what they do to improve it. At the end of the project, we will communicate our findings at an event where we invite Peruvian policy makers, farmers, traders, slaughterers, vendors, consumers and Peruvian researchers. This event will ensure that our research is used by people who are affected and are in the position to improve food safety outcomes in Peru that are important for nutrition and health

Technical Summary

Foodborne diseases are a major cause of morbidity, mortality and undernutrition including micronutrient deficiencies, with animal-derived food posing the highest risk for consumers in low and middle-income countries such as Peru. Traditional food markets are still the dominant distribution channel for locally produced food in developing countries and the main food source for most poor urban households. The research will explore the safety of meat supplied through traditional food markets that serve poor urban consumers. Our proposal is framed around three main questions:

1.What are the food safety risks of local smallholder-supplied meat compared with industrially processed meat on offer in food markets?

2.How are food safety risks experienced, perceived and addressed by farmers, traders, processors, food vendors and poor urban consumers? How do consumers perceive the link to their/their children's nutritional health?

3.What food hygiene measures can improve the safety of meat sourced from different supply chains?

4.What are public policies that facilitate the emergence of food safety governance models that address public health and food safety while facilitating local food production?

We will adopt an interdisciplinary approach combining value chain analysis, policy analysis, qualitative nutrition studies and probabilistic modelling of the fate of foodborne pathogens along the supply chains. Based on an assessment of the microbiological safety of meat products from a heterogeneous purposively selected sample of market outlets, and the identification of critical control points along six supply chains, we identify entrance points for national policies and local governance arrangements that support the safety of meat supplied by local small-scale producers in urban food markets. By combining quantitative modelling of pathogens with value chain and policy analysis, we intend to propose strategies that incorporate the perspectives of actors along the food chains.

Fecha de inicio/Fecha fin17/04/1916/04/22


  • Medical Research Council

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