Knowledge, attitude and practices on food safety and hygiene among food handlers in Government-aided schools in Makindye Ssabagabo Municipality, Wakiso District
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Introduction: Foodborne diseases among school-going children are a major public health problem especially in developing countries like Uganda. Foodborne diseases present as foodborne poisoning and most are due to poor handling practices by the food handlers within the schools. According to various studies, food handlers are implicated in many foodborne outbreaks. This study was purposed to highlight the knowledge, attitude and practice gaps on food safety and hygiene among the food handlers in government-aided schools within Makindye Ssabagabo Municipality. Study objective: The general objective of this study was to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices on food safety and hygiene among food handlers in kitchens and canteens of government-aided schools within Makindye Ssabagabo Municipality, Wakiso District to generate data to inform policy and direct interventions geared towards reduction of foodborne outbreaks in schools. Methodology: The study was carried out among food handlers in kitchens and canteens of 18 government-aided schools. The cross-sectional study deployed a quantitative method of data collection where interviewer-administered questionnaires were used to collect information from a total sample size of 86 food handlers. An observational checklist was also used to obtain information about the physical environment within 16 school kitchens during the survey. The data collected were analysed using univariate analysis in SPSS, STATA and Microsoft Office Excel. Results: Overall, 96.51% (83/86) of the respondents had adequate knowledge on food safety and hygiene. More than three-quarters of the respondents, 77.91% (67/86) did not have any formal training in catering and only 82.56% (71/86) believed that food hygiene training was necessary for reducing the risk of food contamination. Majority of the respondents, 96.51% (83/86) had good practices on food safety and hygiene. Conclusion: The study revealed that majority of the food handlers demonstrated good knowledge and positive attitudes. However, a large proportion of the food handlers failed to transform their positive attitudes especially those on the use of protective gear into good practice. There is a need for the food handlers to attend training sessions on food safety and hygiene so that there is continuity and adoption of good practices among the kitchen staff within the schools.