Food hawking and its impact on food and beverage safety. A case study of Thika Sub-County
By Kimani Elizabeth Wanjiru (HPM-2-0285-13) & John Kahuthu Gitau
Food hygiene and safety is a concern for many nations. This is because food safety leads to a safe and healthy nation. Food hawking in Kenya is on the rise due to its low price and majorly attracts the jua kali and other informal sectors. The major concern for food hawking is the hygiene of the food sold to consumers. With the re-current occurrence of cholera outbreaks in social places, then there is a major concern for proper food handling. The aims of the current study are to determine the impact of food hawking on food and beverage safety and specifically to identify the sources of raw materials used in food production. The study further assesses the standards of hygiene observed by food hawkers throughout the food production chain including waste disposal and the possible sources of food contamination that may lead to food poisoning. Employing descriptive design, simple random sampling and unstructured questionnaire, data were collected from 200 respondents. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics including the means, frequencies, percentages and presented in figures. Results reveal that hawkers had no proper storage facilities which expose food to dust and other contaminations. In addition, high standards of hygiene were not observed during preparations of food with 80% of hawkers packing food in polythene papers and 20% of consumers taking food in plastic plates. Further, results indicate that none of the food hawkers had received food hygiene training and 97.7% operate the business without a legal trading license and health documents. In the light of these findings, this study recommends adequate training on food safety and hygiene; an activity which should be a prerogative to all stakeholders involved such as the county governments, health officers and the food hawkers. The study also recommends that county government to ensure all food handling measures are implemented and followed to the letter by all the food hawkers.