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Food hygiene practice has become a subject of wide scope and it is a broad term used to describe the preservation and preparation of foods in a manner that ensures the food is safe for human consumption. The study assessed nutritional knowledge, attitude, perception and food handling practices by food vendors in MOUAU. The study employed the use of descriptive survey design with the aid of a structured questionnaire which was used to collect information from 205 food vendors in and around MOUAU. The data realized was analyzed using descriptive statistics.  The study found that 55.6% of the food vendors stay inside campus, 51.2% of the food vendors were semi-mobile food vendors. In terms of gender, 62.9% were females while 37.1% were males. From the findings, 60% of the food vendors have low basic nutrition knowledge, which will greatly affect their services as food vendors, 87.8% had good attitude/perception toward food handling practices. There was a strong positive relationship between nutritional knowledge of the food handlers and their food handling practices. The study recommended among other things that; any prospective food handler seeking to operate in MOUAU should be compulsorily made to have pre-employment examination to assess his/her level of knowledge of food hygiene by the sanitary health officer(s) of the environmental health unit in conjunction with the medical officer(s) of the University Health Services Department. This would enable the Health Department screen out those who might pose some threat to the university community as far as food safety is concerned.



1.0 Background of the Study 1
1.1 Statement of the Problem 4
1.2 Objectives of the Study 6
1.3 Significance of the Study 6

2.1 Food Hygiene    7
2.1.1 Food handlers’ knowledge, attitude and practices of food hygiene 8
2.2 Standard Food Hygiene Practices, Food Handlers’ Hygiene and Environmental Hygiene 18
2.3 Food Policy 25
2.4 Regulatory Agencies 28
2.5 Future Directions for Food Safety at the World Health 
Organization (WHO) 30

3.1 Study Design 32
3.2 Area of Study 32
3.3 Population of the Study 32
3.4 Sampling and Sampling Technique 33
3.5 Preliminary Activities 33
3.5.1 Preliminary visit 33
3.5.2 Training of research assistants 33
3.5.4 Informed Consent 34
3.6 Data Collection 34
3.6.1 Questionnaire Administration 34
3.6.2 Questionnaire validation 34
3.6.3 Questionnaire pretesting 34
3.7 Data Analysis 34
3.8 Statistical Analysis 35

4.1 Personal and Socio-Economic Characteristics of the Food Vendors 36
4.2 Food Hygiene Practices of Food Vendors 38
4.3 Nutritional Knowledge of Food Vendors 41
4.4 Attitude/Perception of Food Handlers towards Food Hygiene 43
4.5 Problems Faced by Local Food Vendors when Applying Food Handling Guidelines 47
4.6 Relationship between their Nutritional Knowledge and Food 
Handling Practices 48

5.1 Conclusion 49
5.2 Recommendations 49
References 50
Appendix I 55
Appendix II 55


Table 4.1 Personal and socio-economic characteristics of the food vendors 37
Table 4.2a Food handling practices of food vendors 39
Table 4.2b Food handling practices of food vendors Contd. 40
Table 4.3 Nutritional Knowledge of food vendors in MOUAU 42
Table 4.3b Nutritional Knowledge of food vendors in MOUAU 43
Table 4.4 Summary of nutrition knowledge of the food vendors 43
Table 4.5 Food Vendors Knowledge of food hygiene 45
Table 4.6 Attitude/perception of food handlers towards food hygiene 46
Table 4.7 Problems faced by local food vendors when applying food handling practices 47
Table 4.8 Table Relationship between their nutritional knowledge and food handling practices 48



The magnitude of Food Borne Diseases (FBDs) caused by contaminated food and water significantly contributed to a myriad of health problems (WHO, 2013). FBDs were said to be on the increase despite adoption of vast measures to curb food-related illnesses. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2015) attributed this upward trend to increased multiplication rate of disease-causing microorganisms and exposure to high levels of toxins from industrial effluents. CDC (2015) further added that poor hygiene practices, inadequate cooking, improper holding temperatures, use of contaminated equipment and poor personal hygiene contributed significantly to the spread of FBDs.

Food hygiene practice has become a subject of wide scope and it is a broad term used to describe the preservation and preparation of foods in a manner that ensures the food is safe for human consumption (Malcolm and Bronwyn, 2015). Food hygiene deals with the prevention of contamination of food stuffs at all stages of production, collection, transportation, storage, preparation, sale and consumption. Food borne illness is defined as a disease, usually either infectious or toxic in nature, caused by agents that enter the body through the ingestion of food (World Health Organization (WHO), 2017). This process of kitchen safety includes proper storage of food items prior to use, maintaining a clean environment when preparing the food, and making sure that all serving dishes are clean and free of bacteria that could lead to some type of contamination. The food storage aspect of food hygiene is focused on maintaining the quality of the food, so that it will be fresh when used in different recipes. Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illnesses (WHO, 2009). This include the number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards. Food can transmit diseases from one person to the other as well as serve as a growth medium for bacteria that can cause food poisoning (Omemu and Aderoju, 2018).

Food contamination occurs most commonly from excreta on people’s fingers, flies etc. (that is faeco-oral transmission).  Food contamination may also occur by skin infection especially the hands of food-handlers (staphylococcal food poisoning), consumption of diseased animals (tape worm, brucellosis etc.) or chemicals used as pesticides on crops (Omemu and Aderoju, 2018). Every person is at risk of foodborne illness. It is a widespread and growing public health problem both in developed and developing countries; the effect being more devastating in developing countries (WHO, 2017). Consumers have a reasonable expectation that the foods they purchase have been produced and processed under hygienic condition and that the food has not been adulterated by addition of any biological, chemical, or physical hazard.  These expectations are regularly enforced by regulations that govern production, processing, distribution and retailing of foods and drugs in any country. In Nigeria for example, this task is performed by National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). 

Nutritional knowledge has been seen to play an important role in promoting healthier eating practices, and as a result lead to the maintenance of appropriate body weight (Kruger et al., 2012). Studies have shown that nutrition knowledge influences food habits which ensures that nutrient needs throughout the life cycle are met (Worsely, 2012). Other intervention strategies that constituted some level of nutrition education showed that increased awareness of nutrition positively affected food choice. By providing nutrition education, it is the intent that knowledge will increase and support sound dietary intake within a specific population or community (Ha and Caine-Bish, 2011).

Attitude is discussed as a critical psychological aspect because it has been founded to influence and forecast many behaviors (Ajzen, 2011). Attitudes are also a function of behavioral beliefs; it means if a person trusts the performance of a particular behavior, it will lead to a positive result, then this individual will develop a favorable attitude towards such behavior (Ajzen and Fishbein, 2010). In other words, it so indicate that the more favorable the attitude, the greater the intention to perform the behavior will be. Attitude is also an important factor that ensures a reduction trend of foodborne diseases. Howes et al., (2016) indicated the correlation of positive behaviour, attitudes and continued education of food handlers towards the maintenance of safe food handling practices. Previous reports indicate that besides poor hand and surface hygiene, lack in personal hygiene amongst food handlers was also one of the most commonly reported practices that gave rise to foodborne illness (Collins, 2011). This shows that if food handlers take serious note on the cleanliness of their hand, body and clothing, this will help in preventing incidence of cross-contamination from occurring (Sneed et al., 2014).

With regards to practice, describing a quote from Ibrahim’s study (2015) “practice means the application of rules and knowledge that leads to action”. However, food hygiene practices among food handlers are the observable activities which the food handlers engage themselves in as they acquire raw food items, prepare food or serve food to consumers.

Food vending or its equivalent "Street foods" which are defined as foods and beverages prepared and sold by vendors in streets and other public places for immediate consumption or consumption at a later time without further processing or preparation (Kraus, 2005). This definition includes fresh fruits and vegetables which are sold outside authorized market areas for immediate consumption. The term "food vending" as used in this study refers to the vending of ready-to-eat foods in permanent structures or mobile units. Food vendors may be stationary in the sense that they occupy space on pavements or other public or private spaces or they may be mobile in the sense that they are moving from one place to another place (Kraus, 2005). There are three main categories of street foods vendors, namely; ‘Mobile Vendors’ includes those vendors carrying baskets, hung on balancing poles on their shoulders, bicycle, tricycle, and motorcycle, vendors of bread or ice-cream, as well as trucks or vans selling commissioned food stuffs such as ice-cream. 'Semi-Mobile' vendors include those selling from carts, which may be stationary or moved from one site to another and 'Stationary' vendors may sell their foods from permanent structures at certain points in the city or even in front of shops, providing tables and chairs for immediate consumption (Kraus, 2005). This study was therefore designed to investigate the nutritional knowledge, attitude, perception and food handling practices of food vendors in Michael Okpara University Agriculture Umudike (MOUAU).

Food, being the most important and only substance that is universally consumed by all humans and animals to stay alive, need to be handled or safe guarded properly because contamination anywhere along the food chain can have far reaching effects and sometimes fatal consequences. Food borne illnesses is a burden in terms of incapacitating people, causing discomfort, cost of pain, grief and suffering, disruption to industry and commerce and strain on the health service (Glyn, 2010). 

Globally, food contamination creates an enormous social and economic burden on communities and their health systems. In USA, diseases caused by major food pathogens are estimated to cost up to 35 billion US Dollar annually in medical cost and lost productivity. According to the WHO and Centre for Disease Control (CDC), in the USA alone annually there are 76 million cases of foodborne illnesses leading to 325,000 hospitalization and 5,000 deaths (WHO, 2017). In Nigeria, it was stated in 2008 that over 20,000 Nigerians die annually and over 3 million cases of acute food poisoning are recorded yearly due to exposure of food to pesticides that are wrongly used by farmers (Akunyili, 2011). However, while less well documented, developing countries bear the brunt of the problem due to the presence of a wide range of foodborne diseases, including those caused by parasites. The high prevalence of diarrhoeal disease in many developing countries suggests major underlying food safety problems (WHO, 2017).

However, there are growing poor food handling practices among food vendors. It is a regular sight to see food vendors sell and display foods in road sides, in open places with poor hygiene, poor environmental sanitation, poor serving utensils, poor hygiene on the part of the vendors etc. These shortcomings inadvertently results to hike in selling of contaminated foods with short term and long term consequences. For instance it is not uncommon to hear complaints related to diarrhea, fever and other related illnesses after consumption of food sold by some of this food vendors. It is based on this backdrop that this study was designed to assess the nutritional knowledge, attitude, perception and food handling practices by food vendors in MOUAU.

The general objective of this study was to assess the nutritional knowledge, attitude, perception and food handling practices by food vendors in MOUAU. The specific objectives were to;

1. Determine the personal and socio-economic characteristics of the food vendors

2. Assess the nutritional knowledge of food vendors

3. Assess the attitude/perception of food vendors towards food safety

4. Ascertain the food handling practices of food vendors

5. Determine the problems faced by local food vendors when applying food handling guidelines 

6. Determine the relationship between their nutritional knowledge and food handling practices

The findings of this study will be vital in enhancing the body of knowledge in food safety and hygiene practices. In addition, the recommendations gathered from this study will help future development of policies and curriculum that will give comprehensive training programmes on food safety and hygiene practices to local food vendors so that they can learn food safety and handling practices. 

Furthermore, this study will contribute to the pool of existing knowledge in this area of study and may be used as a yardstick by future researchers interested in further studies. The study also provides an important basis for formulating well-targeted policy support for food handling personnel. By this, it is expected that food safety code of ethics will be introduced to all local food vendors so as to help protect the food we eat even from local places. 

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