“Our food may not be very safe, because now days everything uses chemicals:” Women’s Perceptions of Food Safety and Nutrition in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Open Access

Brown, Sydney Morgan (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/f4752h80h?locale=en


Foodborne disease and malnutrition are critical public health issues in Cambodia but there is limited evidence on effective integrated food safety and nutrition interventions. This study was conducted as formative research for a market-based intervention that aims to improve the safety of animal-source foods sold in informal markets. The study objective was to determine women’s perception of the risk of food safety and how it relates to diet, health and decision making. Twenty-four in-depth interviews with female caregivers of children under five in Phnom Penh, Cambodia were conducted and complimented with PhotoVoice, which allowed the women to photograph their meals and perceptions of food safety and nutrition to further discuss during a second interview. The 48 total interviews (24 in-depth interviews and 24 PhotoVoice interviews) were analyzed using MAXQDA. A primary food safety concern expressed by women was that chemicals in animal-source foods, fruits and vegetables may impact the health of their families by causing diarrhea and problems during pregnancy. This fear created a lack of trust in markets which influenced their food purchasing behaviors and strategies for making the food safer for their families. These mitigation strategies vary slightly among the women, but are important to be able to provide their families with what they define as safe meals.  Interventions that wish to decrease rates of foodborne illness and increase animal source food consumption should also address the belief that the food system has been compromised by the addition of chemicals and pesticides.

Table of Contents


Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter Two: Methods

Study Setting

Study Participants and Recruitment

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Ethics Approval

Chapter Three: Results

Conceptual Model


Importance of Family Meals

Chemicals Affecting Food

Home Grown as Safe

Purchasing Strategies

Cleaning Strategies

Source of Beliefs

Chapter Four: Discussion




Appendix 1: In-Depth Interview Guide

Appendix 2: Food Security Questionnaire

Appendix 3: Photo Voice Interview Guide

Appendix 4: Consent Forms

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