HomeBANWAvol. 6 no. 2 (2009)

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

Marjie L. Aban | Sylvia B. Concepcion | Marilou O. Montifl



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., andbovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad-cow disease) pose a serious threatto consumers. However, there is a dearth of study of consumer perceptionsin the Philippines regarding food safety of vegetables. Therefore, this studyinvestigated how consumers define food safety and analyzed their purchasinghabits. A household survey of 300 respondents, 100 each from low-, middle-,and high-income groups, was conducted. The study selected ampalaya (bittergourd), pechay (bokchoy), and lettuce for the valuation scenario since thesevegetables are more exposed to pesticides. We found that all income groupsare more concerned with the visual appeal of the vegetables. This includedthe appearance, freshness, cleanliness, and presence of physical damages. Thelow-income group bought vegetables from the wet market at least twice a weekand has less awareness of food safety. The low-income respondents were priceconscious 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 andbrand names. Meanwhile, the middle-income group purchase vegetables fromthe wet market and supermarket weekly. This income group bought the highestaverage quantity of pechay (0.48 kg) and lettuce (0.72 kg). They defined foodsafety as “clean vegetables,” and some have started to be food safety conscious bypurchasing vegetables that are organic, food safety labeled, and well packaged.Similarly, majority of the high-income group bought vegetables from thesupermarket weekly and were more concerned about food safety. They definedfood safety as “proper food handling” and thought that food safety in vegetablesmeant naturally grown, organic, and chemical/pesticide-free vegetables. Based on the results, vendors should wash vegetables to take away residues such asdirt and biotic and nonbiotic contaminants to satisfy consumers’ expectationsand to generate consumer loyalty. The results of the study show that for the wetmarket, transactions in volumes should be continued and enhanced to providelow prices for the consumers. For the supermarket, innovation in food productscan be done through the inclusion of food safety labels and certifications in thepackaging of the vegetables sold.