HYGIENIC PRACTICES OF STREET FOOD VENDORS
Background: Despite numerous benefits, it is recognised that street food may pose public health risks. Lack of basic infrastructure, inadequate potable water supplies, poor personal hygiene, and mishandling of food play a significant role in the occurrence of food-borne illnesses. According to the official reports from the European Food Safety Authority, 21 food-borne strong-evidence outbreaks related to mobile retailers or street vendors were confirmed in the last eight years. The outbreaks resulted in 164 cases and two deaths.
Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the compliance of hygienic and technical standards of street food vendors in Slovenia with the requirements of the general hygienic food principals set in the Codex Alimentarius and the Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on food hygiene.
Methods: Food vendors were observed directly and discretely using a semi-structured observation sheet that allowed fast evaluation. The employee’s behaviour was not affected during the observations because they were not aware of being observed. Each observation lasted approximately 30 minutes. Food vendors were divided into groups according to their location, type of facility, and type of food sold.
Results: 23% of all registered street food vendors in Slovenia were inspected. Some of the major inconsistencies were lack of suitably located washbasins, improper hand-washing technique, improper waste management, working surfaces that were inadequately separated from consumers and inconsistent maintenance of the cold chain. The reasons for the inconsistencies are not just of technical nature. Human factor plays a big role as well.
Conclusions: There is a need to change incorrect hygiene-related behaviour patterns, which can be achieved with a systematic approach, regular employees’ training, and constant active surveillance of the employees’ personal hygiene and food handling techniques
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