Food systems that support sustainable healthy diets are currently receiving substantial global attention. Ensuring safety of foods that are both healthy and sustainable is critical in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where shifting food systems have lengthened supply chains and led to modifications from production to preparation that can increase the risks of food-borne disease transmission. While the spread of foodborne and zoonotic disease is an ongoing concern in high income countries, the risks of foodborne disease in LMICs are greater due to the preponderance of informal markets as primary food sources as well as limited government capacities for regulatory oversight along the supply chain. The burdens of foodborne disease are highest in Africa and Southeast Asia, comparable to those of malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.
Food safety scientists are increasing their exploration of the opportunities and challenges of demand-driven strategies to address growing concerns around food safety in LMICs. At the same time, the public health nutrition community is turning to the development of demand-creation strategies for sustainable healthy diets. Demand-driven and demand-creation strategies seek to engage with individuals as consumers to stimulate food systems and environments to respond to key health goals. Perspectives about food safety that influence food choice behaviors in LMICs have largely been neglected across the varied disciplines concerned with food safety. Understanding these experiences and perspectives will provide substantial insight into how to influence behaviors of consumers and supply-side actors that both promulgate and mitigate safety during food acquisition, preparation, and allocation to support sustainable healthy diets.
The objective of the working group is to improve understanding of how experiences of and perspectives on food safety influence individual and household decisions about food across diverse LMIC settings.