Consumers’ Perceptions on Food Safety of Vegetables in Davao City, Philippines

Marjie L. Aban, Sylvia B. Concepcion, Marilou O. Montiflor

Abstract


The food safety issue has become a public health priority. Serious outbreaks have been reported over the past few decades because of eating unsafe food. Food-borne diseases such as Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad-cow disease) pose a serious threat to consumers. However, there is a dearth of study of consumer perceptions in the Philippines regarding food safety of vegetables. Therefore, this study investigated how consumers define food safety and analyzed their purchasing habits. A household survey of 300 respondents, 100 each from low-, middle-, and high-income groups, was conducted. The study selected ampalaya (bitter gourd), pechay (bok choy), and lettuce for the valuation scenario since these vegetables are more exposed to pesticides. We found that all income groups are more concerned with the visual appeal of the vegetables. This included the appearance, freshness, cleanliness, and presence of physical damages. The low-income group bought vegetables from the wet market at least twice a week and has less awareness of food safety. The low-income respondents were price conscious and had the highest average quantity of ampalaya purchased (0.69 kg). They rarely bought lettuce and were not particular on the food safety labels and brand names. Meanwhile, the middle-income group purchase vegetables from the wet market and supermarket weekly. This income group bought the highest average quantity of pechay (0.48 kg) and lettuce (0.72 kg). They defined food safety as “clean vegetables,” and some have started to be food safety conscious by purchasing vegetables that are organic, food safety labelled, and well packaged. Similarly, majority of the high-income group bought vegetables from the supermarket weekly and were more concerned about food safety. They defined food safety as “proper food handling” and thought that food safety in vegetables meant naturally grown, organic, and chemical/pesticide-free vegetables. Based on the results, vendors should wash vegetables to take away residues such as dirt and biotic and nonbiotic contaminants to satisfy consumers’ expectations and to generate consumer loyalty. The results of the study show that for the wet market, transactions in volumes should be continued and enhanced to provide low prices for the consumers. For the supermarket, innovation in food products can be done through the inclusion of food safety labels and certifications in the packaging of the vegetables sold.


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Print ISSN: 1656-3719 / Electronic ISSN (forthcoming)
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