Food quality and food safety compliance among food handlers Working in pre-primary schools and daycare centers kasarani District, Nairobi.
Adero, Olivia Akoth
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Food borne diseases remain a major problem in the World, including in Kenya. However, the burden of global food borne disease remains unknown. The most affected are the vulnerable groups including children under the age of five years since their immunity is not fully developed. Consumption of contaminated food by children has occurred in many daycare centers and pre-primary schools which host children under five years. This study was conducted at Kasarani District among food handlers in preprimary schools and daycare centers to establish compliance to food safety since food handling is a significant route through which food is contaminated and as a result food borne illnesses occur. The study focused on the knowledge, attitude and practices of food handlers, compliance to food safety measures at various critical control points and presence of E. coli or Salmonella in food or work surfaces as indicator organisms. To achieve these objectives, the study utilized cross sectional study design. Data was collected by use of a structured questionnaire and analyzed using Predictive Analytical Software. In addition, food samples and surface swabs were collected and analyzed in the laboratory. The study found out that while food handlers exhibited adequate attitude (mean= 69%) and practices (77.3 (Yo) on food safety and hygiene, their knowledge on food safety and hygiene fell below average (mean= 67°;;»). The inadequate knowledge on food safety and hygiene was linked to lack of training of food handlers with 75.9% not having attended any food safety training and only (32.4%) had attended refresher courses in the past five years. Also, implementation of food safety measures at various critical control points were related to the knowledge, attitude and practices of food handlers. E. coli was isolated from 14.4 % of food samples and 13% of swab samples collected from work surfaces. There was no Salmonella in both food and work surfaces. Contamination of food was attributed to inadequate knowledge among food handlers, cross contamination, time and temperature abuse between the periods of cooking, service and handling of left over food. The findings of this study is a clear indication that food cooked for children in preprirnary schools and daycare centers is contaminated with E.coli and it is possible that food is also contaminated with other microorganisms which thrive in the same environment with E.coli. As well, majority of food handlers are not equipped with adequate knowledge to handle food safely in addition to lack of l-JJ\CCP I' systems in most pre-primary schools and daycare centers. The study therefore recommends that food handlers be trained on food safety to boost their knowledge and improve their attitude and practices. It is also recommended that the pre- primary schools and daycare centers implements the H!\CCP system in their operations.