Diarrhoeal diseases remain a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly in poor urban communities in the Global South. Studies on food access and safety have however not considered the sources of discrete food categories and their propensity to harbour and transmit diarrhoeal disease pathogens in poor urban settings. We sought to contribute to knowledge on urban food environment and enteric infections by interrogating the sources and categories of common foods and their tendency to transmit diarrhoea in low-income communities in Accra. We modelled the likelihood of diarrhoea transmission through specific food categories sourced from home or out of home after controlling for alternate transmission pathways and barriers. We used structured interviews where households that participated in the study were selected through a multi-stage systematic sampling approach. We utilized data on 506 households from 3 low-income settlements in Accra. These settlements have socio-economic characteristics mimicking typical low-income communities in the Global South. The results showed that the incidence of diarrhoea in a household is explained by type and source of food, source of drinking water, wealth and the presence of children below five years in the household. Rice-based staples which were consumed by 94.5% of respondents in the week preceding the survey had a higher likelihood of transmitting diarrhoeal diseases when consumed out of home than when eaten at home. Sources of hand-served dumpling-type foods categorized as “staple balls” had a nuanced relationship with incidence of diarrhoea. These findings reinforce the need for due diligence in addressing peculiar needs of people in vulnerable conditions of food environment in poor urban settlements in order to reap a co-benefit of reduced incidence of diarrhoea while striving to achieve the global development goal on ending hunger.
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