Food Safety in Low and Middle Income Countries

Delia Grace, Mieke Uyttendaele, Eelco Franz, and Oliver Schlüter
Program Leader Food Safety and Zoonoses, International Livestock Research Institute
Resource type:
Peer review

This peer reviewed article explores the presence and impacts of foodborne diseases in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). To inform this paper, the authors refer to recent studies that have helped improve evidence and understanding around foodborne disease (FBD) in LMICs. Increased incidences of FBD may be linked to increased consumption of risky foods (livestock and fish products and produce) and the lengthening and broadening value chains.

Even in high- and middle-income countries, there has not been significant declines in the impacts of FBD, likely resulting from the complexity of globalisation, urbanisation, changes in eating habits and changes in farming practice increasing risk. It is important to note that many food safety protocols in LMICs are geared toward export markets, rather than for food intended for domestic consumption. This article emphasises that there is still much we do not know, but offers hope for improved food safety for LMICs as a result of new technologies, growing public concern and increased emphasis on food system governance.

Some of the key messages from the article are : 

  • There is reasonable evidence that LMICs bear the brunt of foodborne disease.
  • Consumers in developing countries are concerned about foodborne disease.
  • Most of the known burden of foodborne disease comes from biological hazards.
  • Most foodborne disease is the result of consumption of fresh, perishable foods sold in traditional markets
  • There are opportunities to improve food safety through technologies, value chain innovations and restructuring of food safety governance, but the feasibility and effectiveness of these is not well understood.
This resource has been peer reviewed