An assessement of food handlers in a tertiary institution in Nigeria
Introduction: Food borne disease has become one of the most widespread public health problems associated with food safety. Food handlers are important in the transmission of this disease. Therefore, there is need for food handlers to meet certain requirements in order to be certified fit to handle food and the first essential is to have a complete medical examination at the time of employment and periodically thereafter.
Methods: A descriptive cross sectional study aimed at medical assessment of food handlers operating in food establishments in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-Nigeria was undertaken between 1st June and 1st October, 2008 and the data were analysed using SPSSversion15.0.
Results: The results revealed the mean age of the food handlers as 36.4years (age range 14-75 years); male: female ratio of 1:5. Fourteen (12.8%) of the 109 food handlers had mild hypertension and 13.8% had Ascaris lumbriciodes in their stool; 29 (26.6%) had initial and 2 (1.8%) had periodic medical examination.10.1% had skin sepsis; 20.2% and 56.9% had dirty hair and nails respectively. 73(67.0%) of the food handlers had no protective wears (apron, head cover) and the small percentage (13.8 ) of those that had protective wears did not use them regularly; most of the wears were dirty. None of the food establishments showed a license of registration.
Conclusion: It was recommended that all stakeholders with the responsibility of ensuring food safety in the university to be proactive in terms of regular monitoring of the food establishments, massive health education of proprietors, food handlers and the public.
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