Implementing a skill development program among food handlers in tertiary care hospital to improve their personal hygiene: A pilot study



INTRODUCTION: Food handlers with poor personal hygiene and lack of awareness in preventing foodborne diseases working in hospitality sectors or hospitals could spread foodborne infections.
OBJECTIVE: Our study objective was to ascertain the impact of a video-based educational intervention program and administrative measures on improvement in personal hygiene of food handlers in hospital.
METHODOLOGY: We conducted this pilot study among all 103 food handlers who were working in a tertiary care hospital. A checklist-based scoring and physical examination were conducted by the investigator for the food handlers. After baseline scoring S1, intervention 1 and 2 was implemented, and score was obtained as S2 and S3, respectively. Descriptive statistics was calculated, and score was compared by repeated measures ANOVA test using SPSS-22 software.
RESULTS: Our study revealed that a total of 19.2% of food handlers had health complaints. More than half (54.8%) admitted that they had suffered from any kind of illness since last 6 months. Common illness was viral fever (40.3%) followed by typhoid (5.7%), dengue (4.8%) and urinary tract infection (3.8%). Most of the food handlers had long hair (62.5%) followed by long nail (57.69%). Nearly, one-fifth (20.1%) of food handlers nail was infected with fungus. Worm was found in 14.4% cases by stool examination. Statistically significant (P < 0.05) improvement in score was observed after each intervention.
DISCUSSION: Poor hygiene (Score-1 = 23.76) was observed at baseline study although there was a mechanism in place for a yearly health checkup and regular (6 monthly) hygiene training. After interventions (video-based training and administrative measures), the score was improved to Score-3 (42.57). Statistically significant (P < 0.05) differences in hygiene score were observed for variables such as state of residence, education level, and working experiences (inside or outside the hospital).
CONCLUSION: It is possible to improve personal hygiene among food handlers using video-based interactive training methods and administrative measures with no extra or minimal cost.
RECOMMENDATIONS: This “piggyback” approach of training can be imparted in addition to routine training measures among the food handlers for improving their personal hygiene in the hospital setting.

Click here to read the article, published in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion.