Regional Codex Guidelines and Their Potential To Impact Food Safety in Traditional Food Markets

Traditional food markets frequently have inadequate infrastructure, limited access to potable water, unsanitary conditions, and inadequate storage facilities, making them especially risky places for the growth and spread of foodborne pathogens. Traditional markets also often lack effective government oversight. Government programs are important for providing a foundation to manage food safety by setting and enforcing minimum food safety and quality standards and by establishing uniform standards for the conduct of food businesses. Four regional guidelines developed by the Codex Alimentarius to improve the safety of street-vended food were examined for their application to traditional food markets. These guidelines provide important standards that can be used to improve food safety in traditional food markets in many countries, including advice to governments and market authorities in the areas of policy and regulation, infrastructure, food handling, vendor health and hygiene, and training and education. The guidelines can be supplemented with additional material from the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. However, given the gaps identified in the individual regional guidelines, a uniform international standard is needed for national, regional, and local governments to use when managing food safety in traditional markets.