Abstract

We investigate whether improvements in street-food safety can be achieved by providing information to vendors in the form of a training. Among randomly assigned vendors in Kolkata, India, we find large improvements in knowledge and awareness but little change in observed behavior. We provide two main explanations for these findings. First, information acquisition by itself does not make it significantly easier for vendors to provide customers with safer food options. Second, although consumers have a positive willingness to pay for perceived hygiene, they struggle to distinguish between safe and contaminated food. We recommend policies targeting supply-side constraints and consumers' awareness.

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Author notes

We are extremely grateful to InnoAid for the support to conduct this research project, in particular the president Marie Louise Pollman-Larsen, and the project manager, Matias Pollmann-Larsen. This project was funded by CISU (Civil Society in Development), which is financed by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DANIDA), and by Monash University, Faculty Research Grant. The experiment has been registered with AEA RCT registry with ID-0000750. The project was shortlisted for the WAF Award 2015. IRB approval was obtained from Georgetown University Qatar and from Monash University. We thank the program teams of Joygopalpur Gram Vikash Kendra and Gana Unnayan Parshad, for their collaboration during the implementation of the project and data collection—in particular, the project leaders, Sudipta Barman and Sudipta Moitra; project coordinators Anindya Basu and Ashis Saha; our research assistant, Parswati Dasgupta; and the entire field team. We also thank Debayan Pakrashi and his team. We are indebted to Agnese Carrera, Luca Coraggio, Giorgia Moretta, Valentina Pretolani, and Marie Rueskov Grif, for outstanding research assistance and countless contributions during several phases of the project. We thank Gani Aldashev, Samson Alva, Tommaso Aquilante, Anik Ashraf, Jean Marie Baland, Sascha Becker, Stefan Bergheimer, Erwin Bulte, Janjala Chirakijja, Ilaria D'Angelis, Georg Kirchsteiger, Claudio Labanca, Gordon Leslie, Luca Livio, Pushkar Maitra, Giovanna Marcolongo, Andreas Menzel, Pauline Rossi, Paulo Santos, Priyanka Sarda, Glenn Sheriff, Lorenzo Trimarchi, Marcella Veronesi, the editor Rohini Pandem and four anonymous reviewers, as well as seminar participants at Boston College, Monash University, Paris School of Economics, Université libre de Bruxelles, University of Copenhagen, University of Nottingham, International University of Japan, University of Rochester, and Binghamton University. G.D. gratefully acknowledges financial support from MIUR under the PRIN grant 2015TPM9. Denni Tommasi gratefully acknowledges financial support from FNRS, DANIDA, and Monash University. We have no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper. All errors are our own.

A supplemental appendix is available online at https://doi.org/10.1162/rest_a_00913.

Supplementary data