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Appetite. 2007 Sep;49(2):441-9. Epub 2007 Mar 12.

Food safety knowledge, attitudes and practices of mothers: findings from focus group studies in South India.

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Extension & Training Division, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Jamai-Osmania PO, Hyderabad, AP, India.


In India, most of the diarrhoeal deaths among children (<5 years) are attributed to food and water contamination. Mothers are usually the final line of defence against food borne illnesses. Thus, the role of mothers in ensuring food safety at homes is well accepted. There are hardly any studies in India to understand their knowledge, attitudes and practices on food safety. The present study was an attempt in this direction. A total of 32 Focus Group Discussions were carried out with mothers of children <5 years in 16 districts from all the four South Indian states. The findings reveal that food safety awareness and practices are good among mothers perhaps due to the Indian food ethos passed on to them through generations. Home cooked foods are considered to be safer than prepared foods bought from outside. Many mothers were aware of the common food adulterants but do not bother to complain or take action. There is a need to create enabling environment with improved access to potable water, sanitation and cooking fuel. Spreading awareness about checking food labels and reporting to the health authorities in case of food poisoning or adulteration is also the need of the hour. The Anganwadi Centres can be the focal points for imparting food safety education to the mothers.

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