Food Hygiene

Community-Based Intervention Study of Food Safety Practices in Rural Community Households of Cambodia

Ms Frances Warnock, WHO Consultant Food Safety Education
Submitted 3 December 2007,

Between July 2007 and November 2007 the writer undertook three Missions to Cambodia
to provide technical assistance and support to the National Centre for Health Promotion
(NCHP) Cambodia in conducting a community-based food safety intervention study
involving rural community households. The project built upon earlier work conducting
food safety training workshops for forty Village Health Support Group (VHSG)
volunteer health workers from the Provinces of Kampong Chnnang and Kampong Thom.
The current project, which was conducted over five months and in three phases, made
further progress towards gaining a sound understanding of high risk food handling
practices in rural households. Information gathered from a baseline study engaging
VHSG volunteers to observe food safety practices in 200 rural households in villages of
Kampong Chnnang and Kampong Thom, formed the basis for developing an evidenced based
approach to food safety education aimed at behaviour change.
Specific activities included: training workshops followed by observation of household
food safety practices and completing a food safety checklist tool (baseline assessment and
final evaluation); taking time-temperature measurements of selected high risk
foods/dishes; using baseline assessment to develop key food safety messages and produce
a food safety information poster specifically targeting rural households; dissemination of
information materials by VHSG volunteers to rural village households and conducting
small group education sessions aimed at changing high risk food safety behaviours; and
focus group feedback workshops with VHSG volunteers to assist with identifying factors
that contributed to (enablers), or hindered (barriers) behaviour modification.
The model process developed in this study for food safety education in rural communities
of Cambodia involving: (1) Mobilization of VHSG volunteers to conduct education in
their villages; and (2) Providing the new food safety information poster targeting rural
households (modified WHO Five Keys to Safer Food messages); proved to be highly
effective in improving household food safety practices. It is strongly recommended that
this model process for food safety education in rural communities be adopted throughout
Cambodia. Adequate financial resources are required to continue and expand this
important work. It is recommended that funding be sought from both Government and
International Agencies to ensure food safety education in rural communities is given
priority it rightly deserves.
Through sustained effort and action at the grassroots level in rural communities, there is
potential to mobilize community action and improve household food safety practices,
thereby reducing the burden of foodborne illness in Cambodia.
“There is a wealth of messengers in communities with the power to draw attention and
foster a supportive environment. When used with the mass media these voices can put
healthy behaviour on the national public agenda”. (Source: Mobilizing For Healthy
Behaviour, WHO 2002).


Written by geraldmoy

February 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm