Evaluating implementation strategies for improved food safety in Vietnam
Abstract: Pork is the most popular and consumed meat in Vietnam, and the preference among consumers for fresh and “warm” pork makes the traditional pork value chain dominate the pork industry. This thesis assessed microbial contamination in pork, then evaluated the technical and economic aspects of light-touch interventions in improving the safety of pork in the small-scale value chain. A total of 671 specimens of retailed pork were collected from traditional retail, modern retail, and food services to assess total bacterial count (TBC) and Salmonella prevalence. The results showed that 58% of samples were contaminated with Salmonella, and 93% of samples did not qualify for the Vietnamese standard of TBC in meat. The contamination of pork was not significantly different between the traditional and modern retail while hygiene practices were associated with lower microbial contamination. Subsequently, light-touch intervention packages were co-designed and implemented at ten small-scale slaughterhouses and 29 traditional pork shops. The packages consisted of providing tools and delivering training for participants. Results showed a reduction of TBC in pig carcasses (from 4.46 to 4.24 log10 colony forming units (CFU)/cm2, p = 0.09) and Salmonella prevalence in retailed pork (from 52% to 24% detection, p = 0.08). The upgraded pork shop was then introduced to local consumers in a Becker-DeGroot-Marschak auction game. Consumers showed a strong belief in the intervention at retail stage and were willing to pay 13,000 Vietnam Dong (VND), or 20% higher price, (p < 0.01) for each kilogram intervened pork compared to a typical one. This premium payment would cover the investment to upgrade most shops (varied from 421 to 4,146 VND/kg pork). Besides, consuming intervened pork was predicted to reduce annual risk of salmonellosis from 12% to 6%. This reduction could lead to a net benefit of 27,696,241 VND (95% CI: -546,816 – 117,515,493) for consumers and 207,788 VND (95% CI: -38,941 – 658,884) for pork sellers. This thesis provides a sustainable solution to improve pork safety across the small-scale value chain in Vietnam. An appropriate strategy to motivate these actors to implement the light-touch intervention could significantly improve the well-being of community.
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