Assessing the Level of Implementation of Pre- Requisite Programs to HACCP in Selected Senior High Schools in Wa

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Background: Food safety is a Global public health concern especially in developing countries, accounting for 420,000 morbidities and 65,000 mortalities in Ghana annually. Children in Africa usually experience an average of five episodes of diarrhea per year and about 800,000 children die each year from diarrhea and dehydration. This study therefore had the objective of assessing the level of food safety management practices in selected Senior High Schools within the Wa Municipality of the Upper West Region. Methodology: The study was cross-sectional in design and employed focus group interviews to obtain relevant information. In all ninety-seven individuals were interviewed, comprising matrons, cooks, dining hall masters and students representatives (dining hall prefect and assistant, environmental prefect and assistant). Questionnaires were designed to elicit information on written policies and procedures on food safety management including procedures on receiving and storing of food, procedures for ensuring safety of foods brought from home, procedures for ensuring safety of food brought in by food vendors, procedures for ensuring safety of food prepared in kitchens, as well as a crisis management plan that details the roles and responsibilities of staff and procedures for accounting for and releasing students in the event of an out-break of a food-borne illness. The state of facilities and equipment used in cooking and serving food was also recorded. Results: All the matrons had received training on food safety within the last year, while dining hall masters and cooks had received no training in food safety within the same period. In addition only two schools (25%) had at least 2 written policies on ensuring food safety, and these policies were on ensuring safety of food brought from home by students and safety of food brought for sale by external vendors. Also, 87.5% of schools did not have an outbreak crisis management plan defining staff roles in an emergency, whilst 25% had resident nurses who had protocols on identifying food-borne illnesses. Though all schools had equipment for food preparation, none had equipment for ensuring food safety such as thermometers, whilst hand washing facilities were also found to be inadequate. Finally, all schools are monitored at least once a year by the regulatory officers of the food and drugs authority. Conclusions: The results of the present study indicate that senior high schools in the Upper West Region have no systems in place to manage the safety of food served to students, placing these students at an elevated risk for food-borne diseases. It is recommended that schools be mandated to install and implement food safety management programs to safeguard the health of students.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Science, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science