Hygienic Practices Among Food Vendors In Selected Secondary School
This study investigated the hygienic practices among food vendors in selected secondary school. Descriptive survey research design was adopted for the study. The population comprised teachers and food vendors from selected secondary schools. The sample size for the study was 548 respondents. Structured interview schedule and questionnaire were used as the instruments for data collection. The instrument was face-validated by experts and Cronbach Alpha method used in computing the reliability estimates. Four research questions and one null hypothesis guided the study. Mean and standard deviations were used to analyze the research questions while t-test was applied in testing the hypothesis at 0.05 level of significance. The following findings were made: Food hygiene practices by food vendors include: keeping kitchen areas clean, using clean water in cleaning utensils, buying fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables without bruises among others. Personal hygiene practices by food vendors include: bathing on regular basis, wearing apron and cap regularly washing hand with clean water and soap after toilet, using clean towel among others. Environmental hygiene practices by food vendors include: not allowing people urinate around the selling premises, having a standard waste bin, covering waste bin always etc. Strategies needed to enhance the hygiene practices of food vendors include: setting up food committee in secondary schools, the food committee should inspect the food before they are sold to children, food vendors should undergo medical checkup before permitted to sell in schools etc. The researcher in general recommended that government, non-governmental bodies, head teachers, teachers, health workers and food vendors should collaborate to contribute in ensuring that appropriate food hygiene practices are maintained in the society for the benefit of all.
1.1 Background of the Study
The need to strengthen food safety and hygiene practices is a fundamental public health concern for all for the prevention of food borne diseases. World Health Organization (WHO) (1999) defines food as any substance, whether processed, semi processed or raw which is intended for human consumption. In a similar view, Akande (2002) defines food as any substance, prepared and eaten by people to take care of their physiological needs. Also, Ohiokpehai (2004) describes food as any thing liquid or solid material which when taken and digested can provide the body with nourishment. It can be deduced form the above definitions that food is any substance eaten that can provide the body with its needs. It follows that food as a basic human need must be wholesome and safe. This is because good and adequate food promotes good health while poor and adulterated food substances are potential hazards to human health.
Food adulteration is a major public health problem which affects the quality of life of people specially school children. Food borne diseases are serious health hazards and major causes of morbidity and mortality in the developing countries of which Nigeria is one. Bhat (2005) reveals that incidence of food borne diseases outbreak is due to micro-organisms like salmonella, campylobacter jejuni or Norwalk virus. For instance, microbiological examination of various food items served by the food vendors in various parts of India indicated the presence of micro-organisms. According to Ankleshwaris (1999) food adulteration here refers to mixing of food with other substances that may be harmful to human consumption by food vendors.
Food vending helps in providing essential services to many of the urban inhabitants such as site workers, labourers, street dwellers, market traders as well as school children. Food vendors according to Lathan (1997) are small scale entrepreneurs normally seen in a simple set up facilities or stalls in public places in order to provide quick and cheap services to the people. The food vendors operate both in urban and rural schools, where they set-up their stalls adjacent to the schools or operate under a nearby tree. They provide different food varieties like rice, beans, okpa, agidi, ice cream, snacks among others. People who patronize such foods are more interested in their convenience than their safety and hygiene.
Food vending is increasingly becoming popular perhaps due to some vital roles it plays such as providing of quick and cheap food services to the people as well as creating employment opportunities for women. Ohiokpehai, (2004) while acknowledging the vital role played by food vendors to the city dwellers observes that such foods can pose significant health hazards to the people due to the vendors lack of food hygiene practices.
Liu (2007) describes hygiene as a science that is concerned with environmental cleanliness of an individual or group or organization members to maintain healthy living. In this study hygiene is seen as all efforts towards ensuring good surrounding in order to prevent the occurrence of diseases or other health hazards. Thus hygiene entails keeping once environment to avoid the ill-health of disease for a healthy living in the society. Muinde (2005) observes that food vending plays important role in the cities and towns of many developing countries in meeting the demands of the city dwellers. Millions of people are fed daily with a wide range of foods that are relatively cheap and easily accessible regardless of the status of the food they eat form the vendors. Vendors are not regulated by the local council health authorities, thus they operate without any monitoring of what they prepare and how they prepare them. Yet, they are found operating in the secondary school premises where school children fall the victim of buying the food. Simoons (2006) assert that school children exposed to poor and unhygienic diets not only experience poor health but also retarded academic development. Simoons also states that body first uses energy to maintain critical organs functioning. It appears that poor families spend proportionately more of their income buying food from food vendors. Unfortunately, these cheaper foods are generally the least nutritious. They are often fatty oily foods, high in salt and sugar and un-hygienically prepared. The food stuffs as a result of poor storage are contaminated and vending of such food to school children and other people endangers their health. Agba (1994) observes that unhygienic practices by food vendors expose children to diseases like vomiting, abdominal pains, diarrhea and other forms of health risks in the environment. Although school children enjoy food from these food vendors, in many cases the food is of poor quality and it poses a serious health risk to the school children. Food vendors provide the bulk of these children snacks, breakfast, lunches in many schools in Nsukka Education Zone. Agba (1994) states that some of the secondary schools are located at far away from the children homes, hence most of them leave early for school without breakfast, thus they depend most of the time on foods sold around the premises by these vendors. Agba also observes that the food vendors use dirty water to wash their plates and pour out dirty water around their surroundings. Some of them equally appear in dirty clothes, and unkept hair.
The unhygienic practices in the preparation, cooking, serving and storage of food often lead to the contamination of food with pathogens and substances, that result in infection and diseases in the person that eats the food especially school children. These unhygienic practices by food vendors in the schools expose the pupils who eat their food to the risk of contamination of diseases like diarrhoea, constipation among others. As a result, the researcher is interested in finding out hygienic practices among food vendors in selected secondary school.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Food vending is a prevailing and distinctive part of a large informal sector in both developed and developing countries. Food safety is an important aspect of public health, because a large number of people take their meals outside their home therefore predisposing them to food borne illness ( Rahman et al. , 2012). Globally food borne illness is a growing public health concern which result from food contaminated by pathogenic microorganisms, mycotoxins or chemical hazards. This concern is intensified by the fact that, there seems to be a transformation in life-style and food consumption patterns resulting in frequency of „eating out‟ while commitment to food preparation at home is declining (Monney et al., 2013).
The practices of food vendors especially within secondary schools’ premises generate a lot of concern to the general public. Children are ignorant of unhygienic food and may not be concerned about the health hazard of what they buy and eat in the schools. Many food vendors in secondary schools are found not keeping adequate hygiene practices not only in their preparation but in the exhibition of their products for sale.
From the researcher’s observation and experience some of them have unkempt hairs, dirty foot wears, spit and cough without the use of hand kerchief, leave foods open to flies and use dirty water to wash utensil in unhygienic environment. The above condition often leads to food contamination with substances that may result to infection and diseases among the school children. These activities of the food vendors call for urgent actions in the school environment.
1.3 Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study was to identify hygienic practices among food vendors in selected secondary school
1.4 Objectives of the Study
- Identify personal hygiene practices by food vendors in secondary school
- Identify environmental hygiene practices by food vendors in secondary schools in Nsukka Education Zone.
- Suggest strategies that should be adopted in enhancing the hygiene practices by food vendors in secondary schools?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The theoretical significant of this study is anchored on social learning and Humoral theory of food and culture respectively. The principles of the two theories place emphasis on acquisition of knowledge and behaviour change through interaction with the environment. The practical significance of the study would be of immense benefits to the following Ministry of Health, food vendors, parents, school children, researchers and the entire society. The findings would enable the Health Ministry authorities to be aware and appreciate the roles and problems of food vendors in the secondary schools. This will help them to come up with good policy intervention to promote food safety measures in the various school environments where the food vendors operate.
The findings would help food vendors to adopt good hygiene practices that will prevent food contamination. It would provide them with the skills to ensure proper food hygiene as well as the need for them to maintain their personal and environmental cleanliness where they sell their products.
The parents who give their children pocket money would also benefit. This will assure them of the quality and safe food sold to their children in the schools. The children themselves would benefit from the findings. They would be offered good quality and safe food by the vendors in the schools. The good quality food would help to improve their nutritional status.
Researchers interested in other areas of food research would find the findings as useful background knowledge in the area. The findings would benefit the entire society. This would go a long way in reducing the outbreak of food poisoning. It would enable the people to appreciate the need for food safety through adopting proper food preparation under better hygienic conditions in their homes.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study covered the food vendors in secondary schools in Nsukka Education Zone. The study examined the hygiene practices of food vendors with particular interest on food hygiene practices, personal hygiene practices and environmental hygiene practices of food vendors in secondary schools in Nsukka Education Zone. The study also examined strategies for food hygiene practices that food vendors would adopt to enhance the hygiene practices in secondary schools in Nsukka Education Zone.
1.7 Research Questions
The following research questions guided the study.
- What are the food hygiene practices by food vendors in secondary schools?
- What are the personal hygiene practices by food vendors in secondary schools?
- What are the environmental hygiene practices by food vendors in secondary schools?
- What other strategies are needed to enhance the hygiene practices of food vendors in secondary?
1.8 Organization of the Study
This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one included the background of the study, research problem, research objectives and questions as well as limitation of the study. Chapter two contains the literature review. Chapter three includes the methodology and study area. Chapter Four contains the results and discussion of key findings of the study. Chapter Five finally looks at the summary, conclusions, and recommendations based on the findings.
Discussion of Findings, Implications, Conclusion and Recommendations
In this chapter the findings of the study as they relate to research questions and hypothesis that guided the study were discussed.
Food hygiene practices needed by the food vendors. The following food hygiene practices as found out by the study: keeping kitchen areas clean, washing food items before cooking, using clean water in cleaning utensils, keeping food free from rodents, displaying food with cover, buying canned foods that have not expired are in support of the recommendation of Winchell (2009) that food vendors should wash food items as well as keep the kitchen surroundings clean. This is to avoid food poisoning and contamination. Clark and Fox agree that food items should be kept away from rodents to prevent them from harmful bacteria that could cause contamination. According to Adeoye (2007) disinfectants should be used to keep the kitchen free from bacteria and other harmful rodents. The above food hygiene practices are necessary so as to ensure that food served the pupils in secondary schools are free from contamination, poisoning and water-borne diseases.
Personal hygiene practices by food vendors.
Personal hygiene practices which include bathing on regular basis, washing hand with water and soap after toilet, using handkerchief while sneezing and coughing, cleaning mouth and teeth with brush daily, not smoking while selling food, wearing apron and cap regularly are in line with the opinion of Clark and Fox (2009) that food vendors should ensure proper personal hygiene such as bathing regularly, washing hand with water and soap after toilet to prevent harmful bacteria. Barabara and Claridge (2000) are of the opinion that food vendors should use handkerchief while sneezing and clean mouth regularly to avoid cross contamination. Personal hygiene is as important as food itself. This is because the food vendors cleanliness is central since otherwise will be hazardous to the health of the pupils through the food they sell and handle.
Environmental hygiene practices by food vendors: The following results about environmental hygiene practices needed by food vendor- not allowing people to urinate in the selling premises, having enough store for food items, removing ashes after cooking regularly, often washing the kitchen, washing plates after use, having a standard waste bin, covering waste bin always, inspection of stall premises regularly are in line with the view of Kubik, Lyttle, Perry and Story (2003) that environmental hygiene is important to hygienic food preparation. This agrees with Hobbs and Roberts (1982) that bins must be covered always to avoid dangerous odour that may breed healthy problems. Nwana (1994) on his part maintained that food vendors in Nsukka have high standard of environmental hygiene. According to him, food vendors have enough store for foods and inspect stall premises regularly.
Strategies needed to enhance food hygiene practices of food vendors
Strategies needed to enhance food hygiene which include: setting up food committee in public schools, food vendors should under go medical checkup before they are allowed to sell food in schools, food vendors should go for routine check up at least once a year, kitchens should be cited in areas free from odour, developing food hygiene and instructional manual, use of striking poster and cartons, giving orientation to food vendors on their admittance to sell food in school, organizing seminars for food vendors at least once a term are in agreement with views of other authors. Onyechere (2010) maintained that seminars and workshops should be organized for the food vendors to sensitize them on the importance and consequence of food hygiene in the society. Akande (2002) stated that medical check-up has to be done periodically to ensure proper control of food borne diseases among the pupils who buy food from vendors.
Furthermore, the responses of the respondents were separated and subjected to t-test analysis. The result indicated that the respondents were in agreement with strategies for enhancing the hygiene practices of the food vendors that operate in secondary schools in Nsukka Zone. Based on the above, the formulated hypothesis for the study was accepted, implying that there is no significant difference in the mean ratings of the food vendors and teachers with regard to the strategies for enhancing the food hygiene practices of the food vendors in Nsukka Education
5.2 Educational Implications
From the findings of this study, the following implications have emerged for Nsukka Education Zone, Enugu state Ministries of education, health, parents and head teachers and to children in the secondary schools in the state: Food is one of the physiological needs of an individual; hence it is critical and central to human existence and development. It therefore, becomes imperative that food procurement, preparation and service must be hygienically handled especially with regard to food vendors in both urban and rural areas including secondary schools.
The state Ministry of Education through the Ministry of Health is better placed to legislate on matters of food vending operations in the school system. This becomes important to ensure that appropriate food hygiene practices are adhered to, by vendors to save the innocent school children and members of the society from food diseases that may arise due to poor and unhygienic conditions on the part of the food sellers. The school authorities themselves are expected to ensure that food vendors in their schools maintain a high level of food, personal and environmental hygiene practices where they serve customers. Thus, the head teachers of schools can liaise with sanitary inspectors to regularly monitor the food vendors and their food hygiene practices in their areas of operation, be it in the schools or in the streets of the town.
Parents can on their own reduce the tendency of allowing their wards to buy food from the vendors by giving them prepared food in food flasks to be taken to schools.
Based on the findings, the following recommendations were made
- On food hygiene practices, food vendors should ensure storage of food items to prevent food poisoning and contamination through rodents and other bacterial.
- On the personal hygiene practices of the food vendors, headmasters and teachers should ensure that food vendors maintain high personal cleanliness in the school premises they operate.
- On environmental hygiene, government through its health workers should monitor the activities of the food vendors with a view to ensuring compliance with food hygiene practices.
- Seminars and workshops should be organized
periodically to sensitize the food vendors and the general public on the importance of food hygiene practices and the danger of avoidance of the practices.
- It is therefore, the opinion of this researcher that seminars on food hygiene be regularly organized not only for food vendors but to the entire stakeholders in food service operations in the society. The principals, teachers, food vendors, health workers and nongovernmental bodies should collaborate to contribute in ensuring that appropriate food hygiene practices are maintained in the society for the benefit of all.
5.4 Suggestion for Further Research
Based on the strength of the findings of this study, the researcher suggests that further research works be done in the following areas;
- Effect of food borne diseases on the academic performance of school children
- Relationship between food and intelligence among school children
- Food Management practices of home makers Introduction of Health Education as a compulsory subject in secondary schools
The following conclusions are drawn based on the finding of the study.
- Food vending helps in ensuring provision of essential services to many of the urban in habitants such as site workers, labourers, street dwellers, market traders as well as school children. It also serves as small scale business units that render quick and cheap services to the people where they operate both in the urban and rural areas. However, while acknowledging this vital role it plays, it becomes imperative that people who engage in the business of food vending, are to appreciate the importance of proper food hygiene practices in the services provided to the people.
- Food vendors should embrace appropriate food, personal and environmental hygiene to ensure that food are free from poisoning, contamination and other diseases.
- Efforts should be made to ensure the safety of the environment in which food vendors operate especially with regard to secondary schools in the zone. This is to help save parents and other stakeholders from the dangers of food poisoning, diseases and other associated health problems resulting from improper food hygiene practices.
- All stakeholders, site workers, labourers, food vendors, school heads, their teachers and pupils are to cooperate in enforcing good and appropriate food hygiene practices in the society.
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