Assessing the Food Safety Knowledge of Food Handlers of the Ghana School Feeding Programme in Tamale Metropolis, Ghana

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The Ghana School Feeding Program provides children in deprived kindergarten and primary schools in the country with a hot and nutritious meal at school. Despite the numerous advantages the programme has achieved, there are wide spread media reports suggesting quality and safety challenges. Adequate food safety knowledge of food handlers of the feeding programme is vital for positive food safety attitude as well as good food safety practices. The overall objective of the study was to assess food safety knowledge, attitude and practices of the food handlers. Respondents answered questions critical to food safety involving food contamination, food preparation, personal hygiene, food hygiene and food storage (cold chain management). ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, ‘True’ or ‘False’ and in some cases a 3-point Likert scale of ‘Agree’, ‘Disagree’ or ‘Not Sure’ were used. Descriptive study utilizing frequencies, percentages and chi-square analysis were run using SPSS. Thirty (30) knowledge, fifteen (15) attitude and fourteen (14) practice questions/statements on food safety for forty (40) food handlers were assessed from ten (10) participating schools. Of the respondents, 70% (22) have no food safety training background while 30% (18) have had some food safety education. At least 20 of the food handlers provided overall scores of 67.4% correct responses for the knowledge statements indicating sufficient food safety knowledge while at least 35 showed positive attitude with 86.7% of the attitude statements and 74.1% for food safety practice. Despite these high scores, their knowledge, attitude and practices were poor with respect to some critical aspects of food safety, including food storage, food contamination, personal and food hygiene as well as food preparation with scores of 33.2%, 26.3% and 23.3% respectively which are below the cut off points of at least 66.7%,85.7% and 70.5% respectively. Education, training and work experience had significant effect (p < 0.05) on knowledge, attitude and practice. Trained food handlers had higher levels of sufficient food safety knowledge (86.7%), positive attitude (100%) and good practices (78.6%) compared to untrained food handlers who scored 50%, 93.4% and 64.3% for food safety knowledge, attitude and practices respectively. The levels of food safety knowledge, attitude and practices are therefore high among trained food handlers than those who are untrained. Those with at least 5years of work in the food industry also showed higher food safety knowledge (63.4%) than those with at most 4 years’ work experience (53.3%). Therefore training and work experience impact positively on the food safety knowledge of food handlers.
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 in Food Quality Management.