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How consumer confidence in food safety practices along the food supply chain determines food handling practices: Evidence from Ghana

Lagerkvist, Carl Johan, Amuakwa-Mensah, Franklin, Tei Mensah, Justice
Food control 2018 v.93 pp. 265-273
cooking, farmers, fertilizers, food handling, food safety, food supply chain, hygiene, ingestion, markets, pesticides, principal component analysis, risk communication, structural equation modeling, suburban areas, supply chain, vegetable consumption, vegetables, vinegars, Ghana
The relationship between consumer confidence in food safety measures for vegetables sold in open markets and their use of safe food handling practices in the domestic environment was investigated for a set of 332 randomly sampled vegetable consumers within the suburbs of Accra, Ghana. More specifically, the confidence of consumers in twelve food safety measures employed by farmers, middlemen and traders was assessed, together with the frequency of treatment of vegetables with salt or vinegar and whether or not vegetables were stored in a hygienic and ventilated place. The results suggest that the level of consumer confidence in food safety measures along the value chain of vegetable production influences their food safety actions. Principal component analysis identified two factors determining confidence: (a) cleanliness and contact exposure, and (b) safe practices related to water, pesticides and fertilisers in production and general hygiene at the selling point. Structural equation modelling showed that confidence was significantly related to the cleanliness and contact exposure component (path coefficient = 0.41, p = 0.002), but only indirectly to the safe production practices and hygiene component (r = 0.71). Moreover, confidence then directed storage (path coefficient = 0.54, p < 0.001), but impaired use of salt or vinegar (path coefficient = −0.29, p = 0.0015). Furthermore, multinomial logit modelling revealed a significant association between delayed vegetable consumption and frequency of treatment of vegetables with salt or vinegar before cooking or eating (χ2 = 13.2, p < 0.05). It also showed that the marginal effects of changes in the two principal components of confidence operated differently for groups of consumers who differed in their combined use of storage and treatment. These findings have implications for food risk communication and actions to improve local conditions under which food is sold.