The SAFEGRO project piloted a food safety education model focusing on gender-responsive education for preschool and primary school children in order to prevent increasing cases of food poisoning in Vietnam.

According to the Ministry of Health there were 100 food poisoning cases per year in Vietnam from 2019 to 2023. In the first 5 months of 2024, there will be 36 cases, infecting 2,138 people (an increase of 202.8% over the same period in 2023). Of these, 10 were large-scale cases infecting more than 30 people (an increase of 3 cases over the same period).

In this context, raising awareness and promoting change in food safety behavior are considered important issues, particularly food safety practices in and around schools.

From July 2023 to April 2024, the SAFEGRO Project piloted a model of gender-responsible food safety education in Van Duc commune, Gia Lam district, Hanoi. The model focused on three intervention activities: integrating gender-responsive food safety education into preschool and primary school education programs; upgrading the kindergarten collective kitchen; and promoting food safety to change the behavior of students, teachers, and parents.

The school food safety program reached 1,591 people (women accounted for 45%). More than 70% of students from preschool to middle school changed their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about food hygiene and safety, according to the post-KAP survey. 100% of teachers and kitchen staff are trained in food safety using the learning-through-play method. In addition, SAFEGRO created two practical documents guiding the school and collective kitchen on how to standardize food safety practices.

Based on the lessons learned from the pilot project in Van Duc commune, SAFEGRO has collaborated with governmental agencies in the fields of education, health, and agricultural and rural development to discuss programming in pre-schools, educating pre-school students, and improving food safety in school kitchens.

A strategy to replicate the pilot model in Van Duc commune was also discussed. It is expected that in the period of 2024–2025, the SAFEGRO Project will provide a series of capacity-building trainings for teachers, students, and parents in selected preschools in Hanoi in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Training, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Support for upgrading kindergarten collective kitchen equipment will also be considered based on pre-audit results. A large-scale communication campaign in schools about food safety will also be carried out at the beginning of the next school year.