Food safety status in chain and unclassified fast food restaurants in Nairobi city centre, Kenya
Ondara, Robert Orenge
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The hospitality industry, and in particular restaurants, play an important role in the national economy. This is through the provision of employment in the formal and informal sectors hence empowering the society economically. This socio-economic contribution notwithstanding, hygiene standards if compromised can pose a public health hazard by causing food borne diseases resulting to serious economic loses. The loses include absenteeism; high costs of medical care; cost of investigating food borne diseases; legal costs and fines resulting from court cases. The purpose of this study was to investigate food safety status in chain and unclassified fast food restaurants in Nairobi centre. The objectives of the study were; to determine the bacteriological contamination of precut salads and water; to assess food safety practices in chain and unclassified restaurants; establish the degree of application of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and lastly to deternine factors that influence the application of these principles. In order to achieve this goal, a total of eighteen restaurants were studied. Eighteen water samples and eighteen salad samples were collected and examined for bacteriological contamination. Qualitative data were collected using questionnaires, interview schedules, observation checklists and secondary data. The coded data were entered into excel and later exported to Statistical Programme for Social Sciences (SPSS) for in-depth analysis of variables. Quantitative data were collected and laboratory tests run. This was subjected to measures of central tendency such as mean. A p-value of less than 0.05 was considered significant. Additionally, 95% confidence interval was computed to determine the lower and upper bounds. The samples were analyzed for the presence of presumptive coliforms and later for E.coli. Salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, and bacillus cereus were not isolated. Only 5.6 % of the samples were identified with high Coliforn count of 180/100m]. This implied that water samples in restaurants were portable and not a public health hazard. Salad samples analyzed, indicated low level of mean contamination of 7.1 - 8.0x104 from the golden mean of 104. This was insignificant to cause disease and implied that salads were safe for consumption. An independent T-test at 95% (23064260- -2280985) was performed to determine whether the two means of the class of restaurants differed significantly in terms of contamination but this indicated that the two means did not differ significantly. A chi-square showed that a majority of personnel) had low levels of professional training but practiced good food handling from production through to service. On the knowledge of HACCP, an average of 79% of the operational staff (restaurant managers, food production staff and food service personnel were ignorant about HACCP system of food safety and quality though they recommended that it was the best applicable system. Lack of inadequate support, and supervision from public health officers, harassment and bribery remained serious problems hindering the application of HACCP. It was therefore recommended that there was need for high level of professional training for food handlers especially those directly involved with food. An urgent retraining of government public health officers on modern food safety standards is needed. Further, government should equip their laboratories with modern technologies to support hotels and restaurants in analysis and maintenance of quality assurance.