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Examination of Impact of Socioeconomic Factors on Food Quality and Safety

Quinlan, John
Drexel University
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The objective of this research is to gather data to quantify whether food commodities available to individuals in different socioeconomic markets vary in their quality as determined by indicator organism counts, or in their actual food safety, as determined by incidence of pathogens.
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Anecdotal evidence as well as popular media articles implicate that fresh produce, dairy and some meat and poultry products are not of the highest quality in inner-city markets where access to stores is limited by transportation for many in the community. This research will attempt to quantify whether or not there is in fact a difference in quality between commodities in such inner city markets as compared to larger markets which may be located in more suburban areas where consumers have ready access to a large variety of markets because access to vehicles and resources to spend on food products is not as limited.

A variety of produce, dairy and meat and poultry products will be sampled from 3 markets identified as being located in areas where theing a median household income is equal to or less than the poverty level and access to vehicles is limited. (As determined by Census Bureau block data.) Utilizing standard methods and appropriate indicator organisms for the products, the products will be tested to determine their quality with respect to potential shelf life. As appropriate, the products will be tested for the presence of the pathogens Salmonella and Campylobacter. The data will be compared to a comparable set of data that is obtained from samples obtained from 3 markets identified as being located in areas where the median household income is equal to or greater than the median regional household income and access to a vehicle is not a problem. Standard statistical methods will be used to determine if there is a significant difference in either quality or safety of similar products sampled from the two different types of markets.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants