Standards for the hand hygiene of food handlers
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Globally, investigations into food-borne illnesses show that the majority of cases involve poor hand hygiene of the food handler. The challenge of providing safe food therefore requires new strategies for evaluating cross-contamination of pathogenic micro-organisms on the food handler's hands, which might be detrimental or hazardous to the health of the patient Although food-borne diseases may be multifactorial in aetiology, no standards or evaluation systems, such as an occupational health surveillance programme, are available to monitor and ensure that food is free of pathogens. The formulation and implementation of standards may contribute to ensuring that food handlers comply with hand hygiene practices during food handling. Such practices guarantee that food reaching the patient is safe. The objectives in this research project originated from the occupational health practice and gave direction of the empirical research project. The literature was reviewed to discover what is currently known concerning the food handlers' hand hygiene during food handling and food-borne illnesses and the theoretical framework gave direction and guidance to the survey design of the empirical research, which was quantitative, explorative, descriptive and contextual in nature. The food handlers from the food preparation sections of the four major healthcare services in Potchefstroom, in the North West Province, South Africa, were the target population and the sampling method was all-inclusive (n=110). Eighty (75.47%) food handlers participated in the research project. The design entailed three steps. The first was conducted with a questionnaire, to identify the food handlers' compliance with hand hygiene during food handling. The second step involved determining the prevalence of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus on the food handlers' hands. The results were used for the formulation of standards for the hand hygiene of food handlers. Finally, recommendations for practice, education and research were made. The implementation of these recommendations could contribute knowledge to the body of nursing and promote good hand hygiene practices in the healthcare service.
- Health Sciences