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Can food safety shortfalls disrupt ‘Ag for Nutrition’ gains? Evidence from Eid al-Adha


  • Schwab, Benjamin
  • Armah, Ralph


The international health community has stressed the need to raise consumption levels of animal-source foods in developing countries. Development programs based on so-called ‘agriculture for nutrition’ strategies emphasize the importance of smallholder livestock production to achieve these goals. While much of the literature has highlighted the high nutritional potential of such foods, little attention has been paid to infrastructural deficiencies for handling and processing animal-source foods, particularly meat. Such shortfalls in food safety have the potential to counteract some health gains, especially if renewed 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 countries in Africa and Asia, we estimate the impact of this holiday on the incidence of diarrheal illness among children. Eid al-Adha provides a plausibly exogenous source of variation in home or informally sourced 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 relative to non-Muslims, diarrhea morbidity increases for Muslim children following Eid al-Adha by 18 percent. No such similar increase is found on Eid al-Fitr, a similarly important Muslim holiday without extensive home slaughter. These findings reinforce the importance of food safety concerns in livestock sector interventions.

Suggested Citation

  • Schwab, Benjamin & Armah, Ralph, 2019. "Can food safety shortfalls disrupt ‘Ag for Nutrition’ gains? Evidence from Eid al-Adha," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 170-179.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:83:y:2019:i:c:p:170-179
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2019.01.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Derek Headey & Kalle Hirvonen & John Hoddinott, 2018. "Animal Sourced Foods and Child Stunting," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 100(5), pages 1302-1319.
    2. Santosh Kumar & Sebastian Vollmer, 2013. "Does Access To Improved Sanitation Reduce Childhood Diarrhea In Rural India?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 410-427, April.
    3. Spencer Henson, 2003. "The Economics of Food Safety in Developing Countries," Working Papers 03-19, Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA).
    4. A. Colin Cameron & Douglas L. Miller, 2015. "A Practitioner’s Guide to Cluster-Robust Inference," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 317-372.
    5. Nathan D. Wolfe & Claire Panosian Dunavan & Jared Diamond, 2007. "Origins of major human infectious diseases," Nature, Nature, vol. 447(7142), pages 279-283, May.
    6. Henson, Spencer, 2003. "The economics of food safety in developing countries," ESA Working Papers 289080, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Agricultural Development Economics Division (ESA).
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    2. Cosimo Beverelli & Rohit Ticku, 2023. "Global Livestock Trade and Infectious Diseases," RSCAS Working Papers 2023/09, European University Institute.
    3. Edward E. Onumah & Elizabeth A. Quaye & Anderson K. Ahwireng & Benjamin B. Campion, 2020. "Fish Consumption Behaviour and Perception of Food Security of Low-Income Households in Urban Areas of Ghana," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(19), pages 1-16, September.

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    More about this item


    Food safety; Nutrition; Agriculture; Livestock;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy; Animal Welfare Policy


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