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

Elisabetta Lambertini, Stella Nordhagen, Fiona Wallace, Navneet Mittal
Journal of Food Production

Foodborne diseases are a significant cause of illness in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Poor infrastructure, lack of regulatory oversight, and environmental conditions can increase food safety risks, particularly in traditional markets. 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 to compile existing research on food safety KAP of vendors of food commodities in LMICs. PubMed, Google Scholar, Ovid Medline, and institutional Web sites of major research organizations were searched for original research articles and reports. 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.


  • Most studies were carried out after 2014 and focused on periurban Africa.

  • Food safety knowledge and observed food handling and storage practices were generally poor.

  • Few studies included evaluation of food safety beliefs and attitudes of vendors.

  • Limited infrastructure, training, and financial resources were common challenges.

  • Limited awareness of and compliance with food policies, laws, and regulations was noted.


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This resource presents evidence or data but has not been peer reviewed