The study examined the effect of health education on hygiene practices of food vendors in public secondary schools at Oshimili south local government area in Delta state. The purpose of the study is to assess the practice of food hygiene and effect of health education on hygiene practices of food vendors in the schools. The Quasi-experimental design (one group pretest & Post test) was used for the study. The total population of 54 food vendors in five public secondary schools at Oshimili south local government of Delta state were included in the study. Two instruments were used for data collection, self developed questionnaire and direct observation checklist. Health education intervention content was developed based on the area of deficiencies observed from the pretest result. The reliability coefficient of the instrument was 0.75 using Cronbach’s Alpha formulae. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics, with the statistical package for social science (SPSS) version 15. The results of the study revealed that hygiene practices of the food vendors improved as follows; the food vendors that wear neat dress to the vending site always, increased from 16% in the pretest to 54% in the post test study and food vendors who kept short and clean nails always, increased from 4% in the pretest to 46% in the posttest findings. Also, the food vendors who cover their hair always during sales increased from 2% in the pretest findings to 8% in the post test. While food vendors who cover their food against dust and flies always, increased from 2% in the pretest study to 10% in the post test result. The result further showed that the mean for hand washing practiced by food vendors increased from 1.71 in the pretest to 2.12 in the post test. Observation show that two schools have their vending site close to dumping site, one near the school toilet and all the vending sites were not floored with cement. Hypothesis tested using Chi-square statistics at P<0.05 significance showed that health education had significant influence on hygiene practices of food vendors, ( X2=84.2, df=3, P=0.01). Thus, the null hypothesis was rejected and the alternative accepted. The study concluded that health education is vital for food vendors in public schools because of the positive effects it showed on all aspect of food hygiene practices of the study population in the current study. It is recommended that school management should ensure that food vendors in their schools are regularly health educated on food and personal hygiene to update their knowledge. Also, school management should floor the vending site to avoid much throwing up of dust during sales to students. School vending site should not be located near toilets or dump sites.
Background to the study
Food is a vital substance which helps in the nutritional support and development of human system and so the issue of food is a need for every human being. It is usually of plant and animal origin and contains nutrient needed by the body such as carbohydrate, fats, protein, vitamins or minerals depending on the type of food (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2012). Food is necessary for human survival however; it could be a source of ill health to human if it is contaminated by microbes for example, E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter and S. aureus.
Food hygiene according to Food and Agriculture Organization (2012) is all conditions and measures necessary to ensure the safety and suitability of food at all stages of the food chain. Gordon-Davis (2011) interprets hygiene as the preservation of health and it involves all measures that ensure the safety and quality of food during its handling. These measures includes correct storage of both raw and cooked foods, as well as correct preparation and cooking methods. Food hygiene according to Iragunima (2010) represents those factors which influence the health and wellbeing of an individual. The factors are observance of simple rules about healthy behaviours including cleanliness, exercise, diet, sleep and others. So, ensuring food hygiene is the responsibility of everyone who prepares, serves, processes, or even eats food. Parents should always consider these questions before choosing schools for their children; (1) What type of meal do they eat at school? (2) How hygienic is the person that prepares and sells the food? (3) How hygienic is the environment they buy the food from?
School meal is a meal usually given to student during break time. School meal is a good way to channel vital nourishment to poor children. In 1946, America president Truman officially signed the National school lunch program, although funds had previously been appropriated for over a decade without specific legislative authority (Schirm and Kirkendall, 2010). India also has a long tradition of school feeding program (since the 1920s) largely by the state governments with some external assistance (Akanbi and Alayande, 2011). In Nigeria, the Federal Government launched the Home-Grown School Feeding and Health program under the coordination of the Federal Ministry of Education in September, 2005. The program aims to provide a nutritionally-adequate meal during the school day (UNICEF, 2006). However, school meal program in Nigeria (mostly in day schools) is either nonexistent or where available inadequate so that pupils/ students resort to independent food vendors.
The Food and Agriculture Organization as far back as 1989 defined street foods as ready-to-eat foods and beverages prepared or sold by vendors and hawkers especially in streets and similar public places (FAO, 1989). Currently it is defined as wide range of ready-to-eat food sold and sometimes prepared in public places, notably streets (Codex, 2013). According to Janie and Marie (2010), defined a street food vendor as a person who offers goods for sale to the public without having a permanent built up structure but with a temporary /static structure or mobile stall /head load/wheel-barrow/truck. Street vendors may be stationary by occupying space on the pavements or other public/private areas, or may be mobile in the sense that they move from place to place carrying their wares on push carts, wheel barrow or in cycle or baskets or on their heads, or may sell their wares in moving trains, etc in the environment. According to Escalante de Cruz (2005) there are three main categories of street food vendors, namely ‘mobile’ vendors, ‘semi-mobile’ vendors, who may be stationary or move from one site to another and ‘stationary’ vendors who sell their food at the same site each day.
According to FAO (2012), a good location and organization of workplace are essential to ensure hygienic street food preparation and vending premises. Street food operators should keep the following principles in mind: (1) the point of sale should not obstruct traffic or pedestrians and should not expose customers to road traffic or other hazards; (2) the point of sale should be designed and installed for easy cleaning and maintenance; (3) the place used for the preparation and sale of food should not also serve as accommodation or for storage of non-food products; (4) the workplace should be orderly, with the raw materials and ingredients carefully placed on a clean kitchen table or counter; (5) the food should be prepared in a clean and well kept place, sheltered from dust, sun, rain and wind, and far from all sources of contamination, such as solid waste (vegetable and fruit peel, leftover food, etc.) and liquid waste (waste water, fish and meat fluids); (6) the presence of domestic animals and unnecessary and potentially dangerous objects should be avoided; (7) displayed food should be covered and protected from contamination; (8)disorder should be avoided in the work area; (9) the workplace should be organized in such a way that waste disposal is far from the cooking area; (10) cleaning equipment (brooms, buckets, mops, etc.) that is often dirtied should be kept away from the work area; (11) raw materials bought at the market should be unwrapped and carefully stowed away. The work area should be kept clean by: (a) removing dustbins, bags, wrapping and large waste; (b) avoiding sweeping the floor in a dry state as this can raise dust which contaminates the food; (c) regularly repairing damage to the floor; (d)After food preparation, disinfecting the floor with chlorinated water.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) which was later revised by Mulugeta and Bayeh (2011), wrote that food handling personnel play an important role in ensuring food safety throughout the chain of food production, storage and consumption. Also, WHO (2002) outlined the golden rules to ensure safety of food when being processed. Despite these set standards, food vendors most times neglect these rules thereby imposing risk of pathogens infesting food sold to school children.