Food Hygiene Practices of Rural Women and Microbial Risk for Children: Formative Research in Nepal

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  • 1 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom;
  • | 2 WaterAid UK, London, United Kingdom

Formative research was conducted in a rural hill setting in Nepal during April–June 2012 to inform the design of an intervention to promote safe food hygiene practices. A variety of methods underpinned by Behavior Centered Design theory and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points was used to pinpoint key risk behaviors and their environmental and psychological determinants in 68 households with a mother having a child aged 6–59 months. These included video recordings, observation of daily routine, teach-the-researcher sessions, in-depth interviews, observations of actual behaviors, focus group discussions, motive mapping, microbiological assessment, and identification of critical control points. Physical settings, especially the kitchen, form a challenging environment for mothers, including family members in rural hill settings of Nepal to practice adequate food hygiene behaviors. Prevalent food hygiene practices of mothers were inadequate, leading to frequent exposure of young children to highly contaminated food, water, and milk. We identified six critical control points; of these, five needed improving. Determinants of these behaviors included physical and social environment as well as psychological brief and individual motives. Five key food hygiene risk behaviors are suggested for prioritization. While designing a food hygiene intervention package, consideration should be given to the physical, biological, and social environment, and immediate motives behind each practice should be taken into consideration while framing key messages. Creative and engaging activities should be designed around the motives of nurture, disgust, affiliation, and social status/respect.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Om Prasad Gautam, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and WaterAid UK, WaterAid UK, 6th Floor, 20 Canada Square, London, United Kingdom. E-mail:


Financial support: This study was funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development through the SHARE Consortium.

Authors’ addresses: Om Prasad Gautam, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine London, United Kingdom and WaterAid, London, United Kingdom, E-mail: Val Curtis, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.