Vendor Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Related to Food Safety in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Scoping Review

Food vendors in traditional markets shoulder a heavy responsibility to keep food safe under often challenging conditions. The ability of these vendors to ensure food is safe is shaped by their knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP). Hence, understanding vendor KAP is important when designing interventions to improve food safety. To date most research on food vendors in LMICs has focused on vendors of ready-to-eat street foods and not on vendors of fresh food commodities. To fill this gap, a scoping review was undertaken. Of 17,483 titles screened, 84 relevant studies were identified. Of the studies included, most were conducted after 2014 and focused on urban and periurban Africa. Most studies had a cross-sectional design with mixed methods (e.g., quantitative and qualitative analyses of vendor KAP through interviews and observations) and had small sample sizes (<50 participants). Common food value chains studied were dairy, meat, and fruits and vegetables. Very few studies included more than one type of commodity or value chain. Food vendor knowledge typically ranged from little to none, which was evident from observations of vendors operating under unsafe and unhygienic conditions, such as poor food handling and storage practices. Poor compliance with existing food safety policies, laws, and regulations was evident in some cases primarily due to either limited awareness of their existence or limited knowledge of how to implement them. However, vendors generally had positive attitudes toward food safety. No significant gaps were found between food safety knowledge and actual practices, although this correlation was not always examined rigorously in the reviewed studies. KAP and gaps between food safety behavior did not differ with vendor age or gender, type of product sold, or geography. Local government staff were identified as key enabling actors, interacting with food market vendors to foster improved food safety practices.