Food safety and hygiene knowledge, attitudes and practices among food handlers in Pader town council, Pader district
Background: Food borne diseases contribute to 14% of the national disease burden in Uganda. In Pader Town Council, at least 100 cases of food borne disease incidences are reported monthly among both adults and children. This has been attributed to the increase in number of substandard eating houses that employ food handlers with little or no knowledge on food safety and hygiene. Despite efforts by the Local authorities in enforcing the legislation related to food safety and hygiene set by the Government of Uganda, there has not been any decline in incidences of food borne diseases in the sub county. Study objective: This study was intended to establish knowledge, attitudes and practices towards food hygiene among the food handlers in Pader Town Council, Pader district. Methodology: A cross sectional study was carried out, and it involved both qualitative and quantitative methods. Quantitative data wasobtained using semi-structured questionnairesthrough face-to-face interviews. Data was entered using EpiData then transferred into STATA for cleaning and analysis while qualitative data was obtained through key informant interviews which were recorded. The recordings were transcribed and analyzed manually using thematic content analysis. Results: Overall 76.54% (62/81) of the respondents had good knowledge on food safety and hygiene. Almost all of the food handlers had positive attitudes towards food safety and hygiene 97.53% (79/81). Most of the food handlers75.31% (61/81) had moderate practices on food safety and hygiene.Nearly two-third of the respondents 58.02% did not use protective clothing, masks or headgears while preparing food. Majority (86.42%) of the food handlers washed their hands with soap and water before and after preparing food. Most of the food handlers (90.12%) thoroughly cleaned their food before cooking it with (85.19%) of the food handlers covering their food. Most of the food handlers 86.42% admitted to handling money while preparing food. Only a few of the food handlers 14.81% (12/81) had routine medical examinations. The eating houses were also found to be in poor structural and sanitary conditions. Conclusion: The food handlers had good knowledge, positive attitudes and moderate practices towards food safety and hygiene. There is need for continued sensitization and regular inspection xiii by the health authorities in Pader to ensure adherence to the recommended food safety and hygiene procedures and compliance of their eating houses to at least the minimum standards.