FOOD SAFETY: In support the traditional—and essential—food markets of low-income countries

Selling pork at a traditional ‘wet’ market in northern Vietnam
(photo credit: ILRI/HUPH/Ngan Tran)

On this World Food Safety Day (7 June 2020),
staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
make the case for supporting traditional markets
to improve food safety.

Food safety has been attracting increasing attention in Vietnam in recent years as the country’s growing population and incomes are causing rapid changes in food supply chains, which are becoming longer, more complex and less transparent.
[T]raditional markets . . . still provide food for more than 90 per cent of people [in Vietnam]. Does the flashy appearance of retail tycoons and modern supermarkets ensure the food they provide daily is safer than fresh food provided in traditional wet markets?
There is belief that traditional wet markets sell unsafe food and that safe food can only be found in modern, good infrastructure-based supply chains. This myth, going along with the COVID-19 pandemic, sparked a boycott of traditional wet markets around the world, including in Vietnam.
[T]raditional markets and supermarkets are both legitimate . . . .
[W]hile they face different food safety challenges, both are essential to meeting
the nutritional needs of the citizens of low-income countries. . . .
[ILRI] research . . . indicates that pork from supermarkets did not necessarily
have less microbial contamination than pork sold from traditional markets. . . .
On the contrary, it is possible that in supermarkets,
the meat is often kept for several days,

facilitating contamination and bacterial growth,
especially where electricity supply is unreliable.
. . . [I]t is necessary to support traditional markets through capacity development and incentivizing their investment in food safety, specifically through credit support packages and training on food hygiene and food safety. . . .

Read the whole article by ILRI staff Chi Nguyen, Silvia Alonso, Fred Unger and Hung Nguyen: World Food Safety day 2020: Need to support traditional markets to improve food safety, Viet Nam News, 7 June 2020.

More information on ILRI and its partners’ research on food safety
can be found on a new ILRI web page celebrating
World Food Safety Day 2020