Food safety profile of street food vending units in Chennai, Tamil Nadu: A cross-sectional study
Keywords:Food safety, Food hygiene, Food handlers, Food handling practices, Street foods
Background:: The burgeoning street food sector despite being an affordable source of fast, tasty meals, pose significant challenges to food safety. This study was conducted to assess knowledge of foodborne diseases among food handlers in street food units of Chennai, Tamil Nadu and describe their food safety profile. Materials and methods: A descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted among street food units of Chennai, Tamil Nadu between August and October 2016, using multi-stage sampling method. A pretested schedule with following sections was employed in local language: sociodemographic and food business characteristics; knowledge on foodborne diseases; personal habits and hygiene of food handlers and an observational checklist for environmental and work surface hygiene. Results :Majority food handlers (62%) were aged 26 to 45 years; 26.5% lacked formal education. Among 200 units studied, 62% functioned part-time; 89% were unregistered. Three-fourth of food handlers had heard about foodborne diseases; 9% used hair cover while cooking; 35% wore aprons; 51% had trimmed nails; 5.5% wore gloves while serving; 34.5% washed hands with soap before cooking. Eighty percent units had own water source for cooking and 61% for washing; 23.5% had nearby restrooms; 59.5% had hand washing facility; 52% had solid-waste disposal facility; 66% units stored raw and cooked foods separately. Knowledge on foodborne diseases showed significant association with age and educational status of participants (P<0.05).Conclusion: Our study observed an unsatisfactory level of knowledge on foodborne diseases, inadequate individual hygiene, environmental safety and food handling practices, underscoring the necessity for targeted educational and regulatory measures.
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