Foodborne disease is a major public health problem in poor countries, but we lack effective, sustainable and scalable approaches that work in the traditional, informal markets where most fresh, risky food is sold.
A promising intervention is working with informal sector vendors to provide training and technologies, an enabling environment, and motivation for behaviour change.
A case study published in the March 2019 issue of the journal Infection Ecology & Epidemiology presents a long-term follow-up of a pilot project to improve food safety in Bodija abattoir and meat market, one of the largest markets in Nigeria.
An evaluation shortly after implementation found the intervention was acceptable, cost-effective and resulted in safer meat. The follow-up nine years later used qualitative surveys and microbiological tests.
The policy environment had become disabling, partly because of attempts by the authorities to move butchers to a modern, hygienic but more distant abattoir; this was resisted by the butchers.
Authorities revoked the licence for Bodija market and stopped providing services. Matters escalated and forceful attempts to remove butchers resulted in deaths followed by riots. Meat safety deteriorated.
The case study shows the importance of an enabling environment and need for stakeholder collaboration in attempting to improve food safety in the traditional sector.
Access the article, Improving food safety in the informal sector: nine years later by Delia Grace, Morenike Dipeolu and Silvia Alonso.