Public Health Nutrition


Acceptability and use of iron and iron-alloy cooking pots: implications for anaemia control programmes

Katherine Trippa1, Nancy MacKeitha2, Bradley A Woodruffa1, Leisel Talleya3, Laurent Msellea4, Zahra Mirghania5, Fathia Abdallaa5, Rita Bhatiaa6 and Andrew J Seala2 c1

a1 Maternal and Child Nutrition Branch, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

a2 UCL Centre for International Health and Development, Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK

a3 International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

a4 Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania

a5 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, Switzerland

a6 United Nations World Food Programme, Rome, Italy


Objective To evaluate the acceptability of iron and iron-alloy cooking pots prior to an intervention trial and to investigate factors affecting retention and use.

Design Pre-trial research was conducted on five types of iron and iron-alloy pots using focus group discussions and a laboratory evaluation of Fe transfer during cooking was undertaken. Usage and retention during the subsequent intervention trial were investigated using focus group discussions and market monitoring.

Setting Three refugee camps in western Tanzania.

Subjects Refugee health workers were selected for pre-trial research. Mothers of children aged 6–59 months participated in the investigation of retention and use.

Results Pre-trial research indicated that the stainless steel pot would be the only acceptable type for use in this population due to excessive rusting and/or the high weight of other types. Cooking three typical refugee dishes in stainless steel pots led to an increase in Fe content of 3·2 to 17·1 mg/100 g food (P < 0·001). During the trial, the acceptability of the stainless steel pots was lower than expected owing to difficulties with using, cleaning and their utility for other purposes. Households also continued to use their pre-existing pots, and stainless steel pots were sold to increase household income.

Conclusions Pre-trial research led to the selection of a stainless steel pot that met basic acceptability criteria. The relatively low usage reported during the trial highlights the limitations of using high-value iron-alloy cooking pots as an intervention in populations where poverty and the availability of other pots may lead to selling.

(Received January 09 2008)

(Accepted March 23 2009)

(Online publication May 28 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Email