Making an impact, Case 3: Food safety in Vietnam

Published on
December 19, 2016

Demonstrating the societal relevance and impact is an increasingly important part of social scientific research. The Environmental Policy Group has developed a series of ‘impact case studies’ to highlight how our work goes beyond the walls of academia.

Environmental Policy group researchers were asked to answer four questions in the development of their impact case studies: What was the problem? What did we do? What happened? Who did we influence?

Today: 'We have to eat, right?' Food safety concerns and disarticulation of Asian retail modernization policy in the performance of everyday life, a PhD research project by Dr. Sigrid C.O. Wertheim-Heck.

‘We have to eat, right?’ is the result of a research project that was solidly embedded within the agro-food sector of Vietnam. With a focus on food safety, which has become a major social and political issue across rapidly developing Asia, the research aimed for obtaining a better understanding on the disarticulation of the Asian retail modernization policy in the performance of everyday life. A combination of four empirical research studies with shifting perspectives on the study of everyday social practices of shopping for vegetables, delivered understanding on why concentrating the sales of vegetables in supermarkets is no solution for the Vietnamese food safety problem. Acknowledging the complex tasks of policymakers, the research indicates that there is no single clearly mapped path that Vietnam can follow towards modernization and improved food safety.

The thesis substantiates the practicability of practices theory based research approaches in informing policymakers in designing more versatile policies that aim for social betterment in an Asian setting. Combining academic research with private sector engagement, the research directly impacted local food distribution and retailing by incorporating findings in real world interventions and policy recommendations.​

You can read more about the research design, societal relevance and impact of the 'We have to eat, right?' project on this page. Dr. Wertheim-Heck's PhD project falls under the ENP research theme Sustainable Food Transformations.