Research has found that populations with low socioeconomic status (SES) and minority populations have greater access to small corner markets and less access to supermarkets than high-SES and Caucasian populations. This represents a significant difference in the farm-to-fork continuum that these populations experience. This research examined whether differential retail access to foods results in different food safety risks at the retail level for consumers with different demographics. U.S. Census Bureau census tracts with high African American, Asian, Hispanic, Caucasian, low-SES, and high-SES populations were identified in Philadelphia, PA. Approximately 60 retail food establishments were sampled in each census tract category from June 2008 to June 2010. Food samples collected at stores included milk, eggs, lunchmeat, sandwiches, and ready-to-eat (RTE) fresh fruit, greens, and herbs, when available. With the exception of milk and eggs, only food that had been handled and/or prepared at the retail level was sampled. Food samples were tested for temperature, aerobic plate count, coliforms, fecal coliforms, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Listeria monocytogenes. The results indicated that internal egg temperatures were higher in samples from low-SES census tracts than in eggs from Caucasian census tracts, and eggs were more often found unrefrigerated in markets in low-SES and Asian census tracts. Milk samples from markets in Hispanic and low-SES census tracts had higher aerobic plate counts than high-SES census tract samples. Sandwiches from markets in high-SES census tracts had higher coliform counts than sandwiches from markets in all other census tract categories. Markets in Asian census tracts had a higher incidence of fecal coliform contamination on sandwiches than markets in Caucasian census tracts. Fecal coliforms were present in a percentage of RTE greens from markets in all census tracts except African American, with the highest percentages of RTE greens positive for fecal coliforms in low-SES (100%), Asian (71.4%), and Caucasian (45.5%) markets.

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