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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

A study on the health status of food handlers employed in food establishments in Bijapur city

Author(s): Udgiri Rekha S, Masali KA

Vol. 32, No. 2 (2007-04 - 2007-06)

SHORT ARTICLE

Year : 2007 | Volume : 32 | Issue : 2 | Page : 131-132

A study on the health status of food handlers employed in food establishments in Bijapur city

Udgiri Rekha S, Masali KA
Department of Community Medicine, BLDEA's Sh. BM Patil Medical College, Bijapur, India
Date of Submission 29-Mar-2005

Correspondence Address:
Udgiri Rekha S
W/o Dr. Sunil Biradar, Near S. P. Office, Jorapur Peth, Bijapur
India

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
How to cite this article:
Udgiri RS, Masali KA. A study on the health status of food handlers employed in food establishments in Bijapur city. Indian J Community Med 2007;32:131-2
How to cite this URL:
Udgiri RS, Masali KA. A study on the health status of food handlers employed in food establishments in Bijapur city. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2007 [cited 2007 Nov 30];32:131-2. Available from: http://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2007/32/2/131/35652

In recent years, there has been an increasing trend toward the sale and consumption of outside foods. This trend is more obvious in the urban areas, where due to the increasing population, changing lifestyle, breakdown of joint family system, and increasing number of working women compel people to depend on "ready to eat" foods. The individuals may be able to satisfy their taste and nutrition needs, but they pay little attention to hygiene and food safety.

The food handling personnel play a vital role in the transmission of food-borne diseases. The health of the food handlers is of great importance for maintaining hygienic quality of food prepared and served by them. [1]

Materials and Methods

The city of Bijapur had approximately 350 food establishments, big and small, of which, 131 establishments were associated with hotels. Of these, only 40 establishments were selected using the simple random sampling technique for the study. The study sample comprised the food-handling personnel employed at these establishments.

Of 386 employees working at these establishments, only 332 agreed to participate in the study despite repeated visits. Detailed physical examination was carried out for all food handlers; stool examination was performed for the presence of ova and cysts, and hemoglobin levels were estimated to evaluate the nutritional status of the food handlers. Investigation to identify typhoid carriers could not be performed since the hotel management and staff did not cooperate. An arbitrary weighted scoring system was devised for assessing the personal hygiene level of the food handlers. The data thus collected was compiled and analyzed, and appropriate statistical tests were applied.

Results

Of all the participants, 73.2% of respondents were below 30 years of age and only 9 (2.72%) respondents were above 50 years. Of all, 286 (86.15%) workers were Hindus.

Among 332 respondents, 124 were healthy. The remaining 208 (62.65%) respondents had one or more than one health problem. Of these health problems, anemia (29%), orodental disease (20%), gastroentritis (12.6%), and febrile illness (11.33%) were the major morbidities. Parasitic infestation was found in 22 (9.7%) of the 225 stool samples examined [Table - 1].

The majority of the respondents with fair/good personal hygiene belonged to the age group of 30-39 years. Among those with a poor personal hygiene, a majority (22.45%) belonged to age group of 10-19 years and 50-59 years.

It was observed that good personal hygiene was often practiced among the highly educated workers (77.7%) than among the illiterates (21.6%). A statistically significant association was found between education and personal hygiene [Table - 2].

Discussion

In the present study, most of the food handlers were food suppliers; similar finding has been observed in another study. Of all participants, 71% were literate, this finding differs from that reported in other studies. [2],[3]

In our study, anemia was the most common disorder among the food handlers, followed by orodental diseases, gastroenteritis, and febrile illness. Similar findings were reported in a study that observed the overall prevalence of intestinal parasite infestation to be 14%. [4] However, the results of another study focusing on prevalence of intestinal parasite infestation differed from those of the present study. [2]

The cooks and suppliers who handled food were maintaining a satisfactory personal hygiene; therefore, the risk of food contamination was reduced considerably. However, good personal hygiene is also expected among the cleaners and dish washers.

Food hygiene can be best promoted by educating the food handlers about personal hygiene. The findings highlight the importance of food hygiene education among food handlers; the knowledge of food hygiene should be imparted to the food handlers to understand the need to practice good personal hygiene.

The health status and the level of personal hygiene of the food handlers the eating establishments were found to be unsatisfactory. Awareness with regard to food and personal hygiene needs to be created among the workers and the management of the eating establishments and food joints. Although most of the workers are covered under the Employee's State Insurance scheme to be entitled to medical and other benefits, daily inspections of the workers with regard to their health and hygiene should be introduced by the management.

References

1. Gopalkrishna. Food handlers: A social medical aspect. J Indian Assoc Prevent Soc Med 1978;3:67-73.
2. Rathore S. An evaluation of health status of food handlers and sanitary status of messes, of training establishments in Karnataka. Indian J Commun Med 1993;18:1.
3. Chitnis UK. An evaluate of health status of workers of eating establishment in Pune cantonment. MJAFI 1986;42:2.
4. Mohan V. An evaluation of health status of food handlers of eating establishments in various educational and health institution in Amritsar city. Indian J Commun Med 2001;26:80-5.

Tables

Please click on image for larger view

Table 1: Distribution of respondents based on their intestinal parasitic infestations

Table 1: Distribution of respondents based on their intestinal parasitic infestations

Table 2: Relationship between education and personal hygiene

Table 2: Relationship between education and personal hygiene

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