Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Health Promotion, Education and Behavior

First Advisor

Edward A. Frongillo, Jr.


Concerns about unsafe food influence food choice, and consumption of unsafe foods increases morbidity and mortality, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Actions to ensure safety of food are dominated by mitigation of biological and chemical hazards through supply-side risk management, disregarding individuals’ experiences and perspectives of food safety. We aimed to identify and categorize perspectives about food safety in five countries. Five Drivers of Food Choice projects provided transcripts from 17 focus groups discussions and 303 interviews in Kenya, Ghana, India, Guinea, and Vietnam. We analyzed transcripts using a priori and emergent codes. Individuals constructed meaning about food safety through personal experience and social influences. Community and family members contributed knowledge about food safety. Concerns about food safety were influenced by reputations of and relationships with vendors. Concerns were amplified by mistrust of vendors’ purposeful adulteration or unsafe selling practices and new methods used to produce food. Individuals were reassured of food safety by positive relationships with vendors; homecooked meals; implementation of policies and regulations being followed; vendor adherence to environmental sanitation and food hygiene practices; cleanliness of vendors’ appearance; vendors’ or producers’ agency to use risk mitigation strategies; and transparency in production, processing, and distribution of food. Individuals’ perspectives about food safety influence food choices. The success of food-safety policies hinges on consideration of these perspectives in design and implementation.


© 2022, Sejla Isanovic