Background: Millions of people are suffering from food borne illness and it has become a growing public health concern in the world. To reduce the burden of food borne illness, food vendors must have accurate knowledge of food safety. The objective of the study was to assess the knowledge and level of personal hygiene practice among food vendors in Okigwe LGA. The study adopted a cross sectional descriptive studies with mix methods that sampled 200 food vendors using simple random sampling method. A structured questionnaire, interview guide as well as observational checklist were the main tools for data collection. The data which was obtained was cleaned using Microsoft excel and transported into SPSS version 24.0 for analysis. Pearson chi-square test was used to determine the relationship between socio demographic characteristics and hygiene practices. The findings indicated that most of the food vendors were females comprising of 98% and about 48.4% had no form of formal education. Washing of dishes in clean soapy water and the use of apron were also significant with formal training on food handling (p < 0.05). The findings also showed that majority (88.9%) of food vendors have sufficient and appreciable knowledge when it comes to food hygiene. The study recommends that government should develop training programmes for food vendors to enhance their knowledge as well as capacity building of the food vendors and monitoring officials.

1.1 Background of study
Hygiene refers to conditions and practices that help to maintain health and prevent the spread of diseases (World Health Organization, 2014). According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016) hygiene is an act that can lead to good health and cleanliness such as frequent hand-washing, regular bathing, wearing clean clothes and good practice of environmental hygiene. It is the art of keeping body clean and smelling fresh through proper body hygiene that washes off visible and microscopic dirt and bacteria. Hygiene is a science that deals with the promotion and preservation of health. Park, (2017) defined hygiene as the study and practice of keeping good health especially paying attention to cleanliness with the view to preventing diseases and promoting health; thereby, prolonging life. Lutans, (2014) stated that human environmentally related diseases such as malaria typhoid, diarrhea and dysentery are constant threat to life due to unhygienic practices. Personal hygiene is the act of keeping oneself clean and well groomed. In addition to its social implications, personal hygiene plays an important role in preventing both the spreading and contracting of diseases.

Hygiene is very important for living a healthy life free from diseases. Poor hygiene knowledge, attitude and practices and inadequate sanitary conditions play major roles in the increased burden of communicable diseases within developing countries and therefore has negative consequences for child‘s long term overall development. Many diseases spreading from virus, bacteria, and protozoa microorganisms can be prevented, if good hygiene is practiced. Teaching pupils the importance of good hygiene will improve their health for a lifetime (Oyibo, 2012). Personal hygiene which is also referred to as personal care is a public health tool that is used for disease prevention and health promotion in individuals, families and communities. Personal hygiene includes the following: regular washing of the body (bathing), washing hands when necessary, cutting nails, washing clothing, washing hair, brushing teeth, keeping feet clean, caring for gum among others (Oyibo, 2012).

Foodborne illnesses do not only impact the health and well-being of people but they also have some economic implications for individuals, families, communities, businesses and even nations. These diseases put a significant burden on the healthcare delivery systems and greatly brings down the productive activities of the economy. Poor people tend to live from hand to mouth, and loss of income as a result of foodborne illness perpetuating the cycle of poverty (WHO, 2002).

Street vended foods have become one of the most common dangers associated with the increase in outbreaks of food-borne diseases in developing nations. There have been several documented cases of food poisoning outbreaks due to foods.

Good food hygiene practices improve access to healthy foods through the gentrification of food retail venues (Center for Disease Control, 2014) thus, makes healthy food retail a determinant of health in the contemporary world ( W H O , 2 0 0 6 c ) .Unfortunately, some food retail venues are associated with the emergence of NCDs (WHO, 2006c). Also, modern retail emergence has brought marked nutrition and health impacts through food price reduction, assortment and ease of access to junk foods (Rockefeller Foundation, 2013).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014) has released a report showing that the counts of several types of food poisoning infections climbed in 2018, but that the increases could be the result of new diagnostic tools that help identify more cases. Overall, the agency believes food poisoning rates have remained largely unchanged.

Among North American populations, food environment influences the dietary behavior of consumers and subsequently obesity (Cummins & Macintyre, 2002). Foods are gaining increasing patronage as a result of urbanization and modernization which is compelling many urban dwellers to eat their major daily meals out of home. Food vending is a common feature of most cities and towns in developing countries including Nigeria.

Though, the sector is being faced with dangerous activities which have been widely known to pose serious concerns over the safety and wellbeing of the practitioners, particularly the health of the consumers (Muyanja et al., 2011). These unwholesome and unsafe actions have traversed the entire chain of food enterprise ranging from agricultural raw materials to the final retail foods and have been fingered in the epidemics of diseases and illnesses (Sakiru, Akinbode. Adewale, 2011). The prevention, maintenance and treatment of diseases from food borne illnesses were reported to result in heavy drain on the purse of individuals and governments in the developing countries due to huge spending involved (M. R. El-Sherbeeny etal, 1985). The scarce resources which could have been channeled in to infrastructural development are being used to treat preventable diseases due to the unwholesome activities mentioned above.

Small to medium sized food processing facilities face challenges in effective execution of any food safety system. In many cases, this group of people are susceptible to contamination, especially if there is little or no knowledge on personal hygiene practices (Smigic et al., 2016)

Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO, 2009) and World Health Organization(WHO) 2005 regional report on food safety for Africa recorded microbiological hazards as the most eminent risk from foods.

1.2 Problem statement
Food safety is a fundamental element of good health and essential for sustainable development. In very recent times, the food vending business has attracted a lot of interests from public health practitioners, local and international organizations including social science researchers. Despite its importance in terms of providing employment and meeting the food needs of many people in developing countries, many have expressed concerns over the quality and safety of street vended food. It is an undeniable fact that there are millions of microorganisms that are found in the environment at any given time. Hence, there is the possibility of food being contaminated at all stages of its preparation and serving. This statement is quiet true considering the fact that food is being prepared and served in the open spaces. Food is often considered unhygienic and low in quality partly due to the poor environmental conditions under which it is prepared or sold, and also because food vendors lack adequate knowledge on food preparation and handling (FAO, 2009; Rheinlander, 2006; Annan-Prah, A. et al., 2011).

Inadequate food hygiene practices can result to foodborne illnesses and even death of the consumer. This is why the World Health Organization helps Member nations and states in advocating for safer food handling via well thought-out disease prevention strategies and health education programmes which are directed to food vendors, including the consumers. Consumers in most developing countries have access to only foods that are desirable and affordable to them and therefore, are exposed to unhealthy foods in their diet (Rockefeller foundation, 2014).

It has been further indicated that food vending increases the concerns with regard to the possibility of serious food poisoning outbreaks as a result of not using additives properly; the presence of adulterants including environmental contaminants as well as poor food handling practices among food vendors. There are people who prepare and sell food along roadsides yet are not trained with the right skills and knowledge to handle food, these people do not practice food hygiene protocols even the condition of the environment where they operate is very unsanitary. (FAO 1996).

It is estimated that water and foodborne illnesses are one of the major causes of illness and even death in under developed nations causing the death of close to 1.8 million people yearly (WHO, 2002). Thus, have the possibility of seriously endangering the health status of the people and subsequently creating a huge social burden on the communities and their health system.

In this study however, the focus of the research is on the external factors. The enterprise of selling food on the street is mostly outside the regulation and protection of the governments in most developing nations. The lack of effective education, training of food vendors on health and hygiene, non-provision of needed infrastructure as well as non-regulation and enforcement of by-laws governing food vending by local authorities has been observed to contribute to the low hygiene level of street vended food (ISSER, 2002). According to FAO (2009), unhygienic food is associated with the outbreak of serious food poisoning in most parts of the world. Several epidemics of foodborne illnesses with some high level of severity have been documented across the globe in the past few years, indicating both the public health and social relevance of these diseases. Consumers all over the world view foodborne disease epidemics with ever-increasing concern (WHO, 2012).

More worrying is the fact that, it is a common practice in the streets of Okigwe LGA to see food vendors not observing the basic sanitary and hygienic practices of food safety. It is very common to see a food vendor using her bare hands to cut and serve food and still use that same bare hand to collect money from consumers not thinking twice about the health consequences to the consumer. This I believed is responsible for the numerous complaints of food related ailments reported more often in our health facilities. This study therefore sought to examine the current hygiene practices among food vendors in Okigwe LGA from an integrated perspective of food vendors, consumers and also regulatory institutions in the area.

1.3 Major research question
What is the level of personal hygiene practices among food vendors in Okigwe LGA?

1.3.1 Specific research questions
1. What is the level of knowledge of personal hygiene among food vendors in Okigwe LGA?

2. What is the status of the environment where food is prepared and sold in relation to food hygiene and health among food vendors in Okigwe LGA?

3. How food is handled in relation to food hygiene and health among food vendors in Okigwe LGA?

1.4 Main objective of the study
The main objective of the study was to assess the level of personal hygiene practices among food vendors in Okigwe LGA

1.4.1 Specific research objectives
The specific research objectives of the study are:

1. To assess the level of knowledge of personal hygiene practices among food vendors in Okigwe LGA

2. To investigate the status of the environment where the food is prepared and sold in relation to food hygiene and health among food vendors in Okigwe LGA

3. To assess how food is handled among food vendors in Okigwe LGA

1.5 The significance of the study
This study will serve as a pool of knowledge to researchers interested in food hygiene and health in Nigeria and beyond. It will also aid policy makers in the formulation of policies and programmes especially in the food vending industry.

The study would also help to contribute to knowledge especially in the area of environmental health and food hygiene.

It will also influence policy decision regarding the regulation of food vending in Okigwe LGA and beyond.

The study will again help improve upon the quality of food sold by food vendors in Okigwe LGA.

More so, the study will aid in streamlining the activities of food vendors in Okigwe LGA and beyond.

1.6 Scope of the study
This study covered the food vendors in Okigwe LGA in Imo state. The study examined the hygiene practices of food vendors with particular interest on personal hygiene practices, personal hygiene practices and environmental hygiene practices of food vendors in Okigwe LGA in Imo state. The study also examined strategies for food hygiene practices that food vendors would adopt to enhance the hygiene practices in Okigwe LGA in Imo state.

1.7 Organization of the Study
The study is structured into six chapters. Chapter one deals with the background of the study, statement of the problem, the objectives of the study and the research questions that guides the direction of the study. The chapter concludes on the significance of the study as well as the conceptual frame work.

Chapter two deals with the review of both theoretical and empirical literature on the vending of food which also helps in shaping the study.

Chapter three deals with the profile of the area and background characteristics of the study area, research methodology, method of data collection, technique for sampling as well as method of data analysis.

Chapter four presents the results of study. This is done based on the sociodemographic characteristics as well as the objectives of the study.

Chapter five presents the discussion of the findings based on the results and supported by literature.

Chapter six looks at the summary of the findings recommendations and end with a conclusion Chapter four covers a profile of the district and background characteristics of the study area

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 57 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word   Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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