Food safety and hygiene practices: a comparative study of selected technical and vocational education and training and university hospitality schools in Kenya
Wandolo, Monica Akinyi
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Food is a basic human need that plays a vital role in the sustenance of life. Its safety, however, has become a major concern to the food industry given that the consumption of contaminated food and water contributes to a myriad of health problems the world over. Although food prepared and served at the restaurants may look clean and taste delicious, it may have been contaminated by biological, chemical or physical hazards during the preparation procedures from the source through to service. Food workshops (kitchens) are viewed as the major sources of contaminations from poor sourcing and handling practices which include undercooking, poor personal hygiene, and use of unclean equipment, inappropriate storage and incorrect holding temperatures. Despite extensive investment in training of food handling personnel, food-borne diseases remain a contentious problem to both developed and developing nations. The general objective of this study was to compare food safety and hygiene practices in training colleges to ascertain their capacity in training food safety and hygiene practices. The specific objectives included to compare the level of hygiene awareness in Technical Industrial Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TVET) and University hospitality Schools, to compare food-handling practices between TVET and University hospitality schools, to establish their capacity in offering food safety and hygiene practices, to assess the applicability of HACCP pre-requisites, to determine barriers to food safety and hygiene practices in these institutions and more importantly, to determine the microbial load of vegetables served from these institutions. Hospitality training encompasses appropriate food handling procedures, careful selection of food source and use of correct equipment, proper storage, proper cleaning procedures and proper management of food waste. All University hospitality schools and food and beverage departments in TVET colleges were considered as reliable sources of information. Accordingly, the target population included both students and heads of these departments. The instruments used to collect data included questionnaires, interviews, observation checklists, photographs and focus group discussions. An observation checklist was used to assess good hygiene practices (GHP) particularly in the training workshops. Both descriptive and inferential procedures were used in data analysis and hypotheses. Chi-square was also used to test the independence of various samples. Both paired t-test and one sample t-tests were used to test for equality of various study variables in the two institution categories. All tests were performed at 95% confidence level . For microbial tests , Samples of spinach , coleslaw and mace͂ dione of vegetables (n=36) from these institutions were analysed in the laboratory to determine the microbial load, aerobic plate count and coliform. Finally, to determine the barriers to food safety, a multiple regression analysis was undertaken. The study established that the levels of awareness varied across the institutions. Out of the total number of students, 17% were not aware of HACCP principles. Institutions had no safety guidelines therefore no operational standards were followed. The study revealed that institutions were not adequately equipped, and the HACCP prerequisites were not used in most of the institutions. Multiple regression analysis revealed that lack of resources posed a serious threat to food safety and hygienic practices. The isolation of E.coli, salmonella and pseudomonas confirmed that food safety in the institutions was compromised. This study therefore recommended that HACCP food safety system be introduced in all hospitality training institutions as a measure against food contamination.