FOOD SAFETY PRACTICES AMONG FOOD VENDORS IN SECONDARY SCHOOL IN ILORIN
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Background of the study: Food is an important basic necessity which is essential for health and wellbeing of humans and so if the proper food handling and preparation processes are not followed it might pose health risks to the consumer. Pupils in schools can be exposed to infections and possible complications; gastroenteritis can impair digestion and absorption of nutrients and the perception or fear about poor food hygiene practices might result in pupils rejecting food.
Objective: The overall objective of this study was to establish knowledge levels and practices of food safety among food handlers in selected secondary schools in Ilorin, Kwara State
Methodology: A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out in Ilorin, 10 secondary schools involving 103 food handlers. Schools were selected using a simple random selection so as to get equal respondents. An interviewer administered questionnaire and key informant interview guide were used to collect qualitative and quantitative data which was entered in SPSS for descriptive, bivariate and multivariate analysis.
Results: Safe food was found to be at 20.4% among the food handlers in the selected schools in Ilorin. Three independent factors were found to be significantly associated with food safety; formal training (p=0.00), level of knowledge (p=0.00) and use of protective coverings (p=0.00).
Conclusion: The safety of food in Ilorin is at stake with only 20.4% safe food among secondary schools. This implies that pupils in these schools are at risk of contracting food borne diseases. The low percentage of safe food is attributed to lack of formal training among food handlers regarding food safety, lack of adequate knowledge on best practices of food and failure to wear protective clothing while conducting food processes
This chapter introduces this study by spelling out the background to the study, statement of the problem, research objectives, research questions, significance of this study, and the conceptual framework.
1.1 Background to study
Globally, Food is an important basic necessity which is essential for health and wellbeing of humans. Therefore, ensuring safe food handling and preparation is of paramount importance. Food borne diseases remain a major public health problem (Abdalla MA, 2008)in developed countries, up to an estimated 70% of cases of diarrheal disease are associated with consumption of unwholesome food (Annor GA, 2011). Food contamination can occur at any point during its preparation, bringing to bear the importance of food safety and hygiene in the prevention of food borne diseases (Chukuezi, 2011).
Apart from the USA, other developed countries also experienced the burden of Food -borne Diseases (FBDs). In Turkey, for instance, a total of 23,010 cases of dysentery were reported in 1997. (Green L, 2005)In Emilia-Romagna, a single region in Italy, 1564 episodes of foodborne diseases were reported between 1988 and 2000 (Ismail Z, 2013). A national survey done by the British government in 2009 revealed that outbreaks of food poisoning had serious financial and social implications (Abdalla MA, 2008). The survey further added that Salmonella alone caused 1939 food-related illnesses (Acheson, 2011). On the same vein, indicated that about one million people suffer from food poisoning every year at an estimated cost of $ 1.5 million annually (Annor GA, 2011). Another observation by Rona Ambrose,
Minister of Health in Canada (2014), also reported that although Canada boasted of the safest and healthiest food safety systems in the world, the Government was still committed to strengthening food safety by giving tough penalties and cracking down those that did not comply with food safety measures.
In industrialized countries, infected food handlers are an important source of food borne disease. Ingestion of infected food can result in mild to severe illness, hospitalization or even death. Diseases with short incubation periods are more likely to be detected and attributed unless otherwise stated to infected food than those with longer incubation periods where the individual may not associate their illness with ingestion of infected food. Bakhiet A (2008).
In developing countries, particularly in most African countries, a change in socioeconomic setting had resulted in multiple food safety challenges (Green, 2003). Green pointed out that between 70% and 90% of employees in Africa were in the food trade. These traders were said to significantly influence the prevalence of Food -borne Diseases (FBDs) in their respective countries. (Ismail Z, 2013)added that availability, distribution and maintenance of adequate supply of portable water and nutritious food were the major challenges to most of these countries. Moreover, inadequate sanitation and physical facilities were said to contribute to lower aesthetic standards, resulting to contaminated food and water (Annor GA, 2011). In Africa poverty is the underlying cause of consumption of unsafe food. Lack of access to potable water, poor government structural arrangement, communicable diseases, trade pressure, and inconvenient environmental conditions are notable reasons. High incidences of diarrheal diseases among children are indications of the food hygiene situation in the African region.(Jevsnik M, 2008)
In Kenya, like other countries was not exempted from the burden of FBDs. According to (Chukuezi, 2011), up to 70% of all diarrhoeal episodes were attributed to ingestion of contaminated food and water. This study viewed training intervention of food handling personnel as a solution not only in Kenya but also in Africa and other developing countries struggling with food safety challenges. It was upon this backdrop that this study aimed at comparing food safety and hygiene practices in training colleges to ascertain their capacity in training food safety and hygienic practices. (Annor GA, 2011).
In Nigeria, according to how, a food handler is a person with any job that requires him/her to handle unpackaged foods or beverages and be involved in preparing, manufacturing, serving, inspecting, or even packaging of food and beverage items. All food handlers are required to use proper hygiene and sanitation methods when working with food. Food hygiene is the set of basic principles employed in the systematic control of the environmental conditions during production, packaging, delivery/transportation, storage, processing, preparation, selling and serving of food in such a manner as to ensure that food is safe to consume and is of good keeping quality. However, food itself can pose health threat, a problem that is serious in developing countries due to difficulties in securing optimal hygienic food handling practices. This is because of adequate supply of safe, wholesome and healthy foods are essential for the health and well‑being of humans (Ababio and Lovat 2014). Food borne diseases are major health problems in developed and developing countries.
The World Health Organization estimated that in developed countries, up to 30% of the populations suffer from food borne diseases each year, whereas in developing countries up to 2million deaths are estimated per year. Every day people all over the world get sick from the food they eat. This sickness is called food borne disease and is caused by dangerous microorganisms and/or toxic chemicals. Millions of people become sick each year and thousands die after eating contaminated or mishandled foods (Green L, 2005). Food handlers with poor personal hygiene working in food establishments could be potential sources of infections of many intestinal helminths, protozoa, and pathogenic bacteria. Food handler are anyone who works in a food and drink establishments and who handles food, or contact with any equipment or utensils that are likely to be in contact with food, such as cutlery, plates, bowls, or chopping boards.(Jevsnik M, 2008)In Ilorin, Food hygiene in the selected secondary schools can acquire peculiar features: indeed, many pupils could be more vulnerable than healthy subjects to microbiological and nutritional risks; large numbers of persons can be exposed to infections and possible complications; gastroenteritis can impair digestion and absorption of nutrients and the perception or fear about poor food hygiene practices might result in patients rejecting the meals supplied by the hospital catering (Abdalla MA, 2008).
1.2 Statement of the problem
Foodborne diseases present a serious challenge to public health in Ilorin. Studies done in selected secondary schools have indicated that the majority of reported foodborne diseases originate in food service establishments (Green L, 2005), and studies on foodborne disease risk factors have indicated that most outbreaks associated with food service establishments can be attributed to food handlers„ improper food preparation practices (Friedman et al., 2004). Additionally, observational studies have shown that food handlers frequently engage in unsafe food preparation practices (Clayton and Griffith, 2004,). The public health objective of food hygiene and safety is the prevention of illness attributable to consumption of food. The principle of food hygiene implies that there should be minimal handling of food items. Food handlers are thus expected to observe proper hygiene and sanitation methods as the chances of food contamination largely depend on their health status and hygiene practices. Despite efforts in place by Nigeria food and drug authority and integration of the food and nutrition in school health program, morbidities and mortalities have been associated with consumption of contaminated foodstuffs (Havelaar et al,2010). If nothing is done to combat this problem in schools, it will lead to increased morbidity, school absenteeism, low grades, school drop outs and the consequential increased illiteracy among future adults which also leads to increased dependency and low economic productivity in the long run. The main objective of this study is to establish knowledge and practices of food safety amongfood handlers in Ilorin in order to initiate specific food provider improvement services for the maintenance of health among school children.
1.3 General objective
To establish knowledge levels and practices of food safety among food handlers in selected secondary schools in Ilorin, Kwara State
1.3.1 Specific objectives
- To determine the socio-demographic characteristics of food handlers in selected secondary schools in Ilorin, Kwara State.
- To assess knowledge on food safety among food handlers in selected secondary schools in Ilorin, Kwara State.
- To investigate practices on food safety among food handlers in selected secondary schools in Ilorin, Kwara State.
1.3.2 Research questions
- What are socio-demographic characteristics of food handlers in selected secondary schools in Ilorin, Kwara State?
- What is the level of knowledge on food safety handling among handlers in selected schools in Ilorin, Kwara State?
- What are the current practices on food safety among food handlers in selected schools in Ilorin, Kwara State?
1.4 Significance of the study
This will add to knowledge among scholars on matters regarding school health programs and intended interventions can be planed as per evidence-based findings.
The findings obtained will be relevant in determining the most appropriate measures towards eradication of agents of food contamination and education of the food handlers on adherence and maintenance of standards regarding food hygiene.
Narrative of the frame work
There are several factors that could affect food safety and among them are; sociodemographic factors, knowledge and practices on food safety.
The socio-demographic factors are; sex, age, education level, formal training in food safety, and experience.
The knowledge levels could be determined by testing on the following issues; food handling best practices, importance and risks of hygiene, sources of and types of food borne diseases. The practices on food could include; hygiene/handwashing, use of protective clothings to mitigate infections, boiling water, and cooking food.