Is routine medical examination of food handlers enough to ensure food safety in hospitals?

Link to article at PubMed

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Is routine medical examination of food handlers enough to ensure food safety in hospitals?

J Commun Dis. 2012 Sep;44(3):139-44

Authors: Biswal M, Khurana S, Taneja N, Kaur T, Samanta P, Malla N, Sharma M

Nosocomial food outbreaks due to infected food handlers is primarily due to inadequate knowledge and faulty practices of food handlers during diarrhoeal episodes. The aim of this study was to assess: 1) prevalence of enteropathogen infection among food handlers working in our hospital during 2007 to 2011 and 2) adequacy of precautions taken by them during gastroenteritis episodes. Stool samples submitted by food handlers during 2007 to 2011 were examined for the presence of enteropathogens by standard methodology. For the second part of the study, a questionnaire regarding practices during episodes of diarrhoea in food handlers or their family members was handed out to willing participants. During the years 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 respectively, 3.9%, 9.8%, 5.1% and 9.4% food handlers were found infected with enteropathogens. The most common parasite detected was Entamoeba histolytica. Bacterial enteropathogens prevalence was very low during these years. There was high awareness (78.8%) among the food handlers regarding routine testing of faeces. Only 64.7% knew that it was important to report for purpose of treatment and leave. While 9.4% had suffered from diarrhoeal episodes in between intervals of annual microbiological testing, only 4.7% took appropriate treatment and availed medical leave. A regular training programme on food safety should be established and emphasis should be laid on mandatory reporting and stool testing of kitchen personnel as well as abstaining from work till they are medically fit.

PMID: 25145060 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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