Food safety policies and practices in public spaces: The urban water, sanitation, and hygiene environment for fresh fish sold from individual vendors in Mzuzu, Malawi

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Food safety policies and practices in public spaces: The urban water, sanitation, and hygiene environment for fresh fish sold from individual vendors in Mzuzu, Malawi

You may be interested in our recent paper on food safety and water, sanitation and hygiene in public places.

Food safety policies and practices in public spaces: The urban water, sanitation, and hygiene environment for fresh fish sold from individual vendors in Mzuzu, Malawi

By: Jazimoni Lazaro, Fanuel Kapute and Rochelle H. Holm
Food Science & Nutrition

Abstract
In sub-Saharan Africa, informal markets account for where more than 80% of food is sold. Fish is a major protein source for households in Malawi and is commonly purchased from individual vendors. The aim of this study was to review national acts and policies and local regulations focused on fresh fish sold at open-air markets or by mobile vendors and further examine the water, sanitation, and hygiene environment that may impact food safety in Mzuzu City, Malawi. The study used interviews, an observational checklist, and sampling of water and fish skin. In general, there was limited oversight of food safety where fresh fish are sold by vendors, and food safety guidance was inadequate. There was access to water in 3 of the 4 markets, but only 2 markets had safe water (0 cfu/100 ml for Escherichia coli). All vendors stored water in a container for use throughout the day to sprinkle the fish with their bare hands to keep them from drying out. The mean washing water Escherichia coli level was 700 cfu/100 ml. All fish skin samples (25/25) were positive for the presence of Salmonella spp., and most had high levels of Escherichia coli. Sanitation facilities were available for vendors and customers at 2 of the 4 markets, but use was limited. This research identified 3 key opportunities: 1.) Regulatory framework including informal markets and mobile vendors; 2.) Safe water, clean and functional toilets, and handwashing stations with soap at every market; and 3.) Foodborne disease education for vendors.

The full paper is open access and can be read here: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/fsn3.1155

Rochelle Holm, Ph.D., PMP
Mzuzu University
Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation
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