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Can food safety shortfalls disrupt nutritional gains from increased animal-source food consumption? Evidence from Eid al-Adha

Benjamin Schwab and Ralph Armah

No 236188, 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts from Agricultural and Applied Economics Association

Abstract: The international health community has recently increased the focus on raising the consumption of animal-source foods in developing countries. While much of the literature has highlighted the high nutritional potential of such foods, little attention has been paid to infrastructure deficiencies for handling and processing animal-sourced foods, particularly meat. Such shortfalls in food safety have the potential to counteract some health gains, especially if renewed international efforts to increase animal consumption are not combined with improved processing capacity. The spike in meat consumption among Muslims worldwide on Eid al-Adha provides a natural experiment to test the extent to which such food safety concerns are justified. Meat processing on this holiday often exceeds the capacity of formal slaughter and processing infrastructure, and thus provides an excellent opportunity to observe the implications of a rapid intensification of meat production and consumption across several countries. Using Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from nine countries in Africa and Asia, we estimate the impact of meat consumption during this holiday on the incidence of diarrheal illness among children. Eid al-Adha provides a plausibly exogenous source of variation in meat consumption among Muslims, a natural comparison group (Non-Muslims) and independence from seasonal influences (the holiday follows the lunar Islamic calendar). We find that Eid al-Adha increases the incidence of diarrhea in Muslim children, relative to non-Muslims, by approximately 20 percent. These findings lend suggest food safety issues should be an important consideration for livestock intensification programs.

Keywords: Agricultural and Food Policy; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty; International Development (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016-05-25
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DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.236188

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