Food Hygiene

Food safety education as an effective strategy to reduce diarrhoeal morbidities in children less than two years of age.

Sheth M Gurudasani R Mistry V Mehrotra S and Seshadri S (2006) Food safety education as an effective strategy to reduce diarrhoeal morbidities in children less than two years of age. Indian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics; 43(1): 22-31.

In India food safety education was imparted to mothers of children 6-24 months (Group 1, n=30) over a period of one month in 5 sessions that lasted about 45 minutes each.[1]A pre-tested structured questionnarire was used to collect information on socio-economic status and diarrhoeal profile of the children. Personal hygiene and environmental sanitation were evaluated by observation based on a 4-point scale from poor to excellent. Fifty percent of the mothers were illiterate with low family incomes (mean about Rs 1400)living in homes with individual toilet (59 percent), but using communal tap water (68 percent). The messages impart were: 1. washing hands with soap before and after various activities such as feeding, cooking, eating and after defecation, cleaning the child’s nose, sweeping/mopping; 2. not feeding leftover/overnight stored food, but if necessary to feed leftover food, reheating to boiling; 3. keeping the surroundings clean.  Group 2 (N=31) did not receive any food safety education. The results indicated a 33 percent reduction in the diarrhoeal morbidities of the children in Group 1 where mothers were educated using the food hygiene messages and diarrheal morbidities among children whereas Group 2, which was not counseled, remained unchanged. A significant improvement occurred in the knowledge regarding hygiene.  In particular, attribution of microbes in food to diarrhea increased from 23 percent to 87 percent.  In addition, recognition of the potential risk factors related to feeding leftover foods, washing hands before feeding/cooking and keeping the house neat and clear increased.  This was confirmed in observation of personal hygiene and environmental sanitation where there were statistically significant improvements in these scores after the intervention. This was also supported by reduction in the microbial counts of most samples. The findings of the present study have shown that specific health related instructions given to the mothers such as importance of food hygiene and related hygiene practices. However, it was noted that traditional beliefs persisted in both groups that diarrhea was caused by “evil eye” and “teething”, but these were not addressed during the education intervention. The authors concluded that food hygiene education can be successfully used as an intervention strategy to reduce diarrheal morbidities in children less than 2 years of age


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March 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm