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An Assessment of the Food Safety Practices of cooked food vendors in Masvingo City, Zimbabwe

Published onJun 13, 2023
An Assessment of the Food Safety Practices of cooked food vendors in Masvingo City, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is slowly easing COVID-19 restrictions due to a reduced COVID-19 prevalence. As normal urban lifestyles resumed, the demand for cooked food also increased. Most registered Food outlets are taking longer to fully recover, leaving the unregistered vendors as the quickest ready-to-eat cooked food providers. This study was conducted in Masvingo City which is synonymous with transit population migrating to and from South Africa. Street cooked food vending raises public health concerns particularly due to the likely breach of food safety and hygiene standards.  A cross-sectional study design was used to collect data from 120 respondents using questionnaires, key informant interview guides and observation checklists. Data was collected from Masvingo City Centre, Masvingo-Mucheke Bus Terminus and Exor Garage Long Distance Bus Terminus. The majority of the Cooked Food street vendors were females (78.5%) aged between 21 and 59 years, those married were (52.7%), had attained Primary Level Education (13.9%), secondary level education (89.6%), University Education (45,4%), The Vendors were largely (92.5%) not trained on food safety and hygiene, did not have Food Handler’s Medical Fitness Certificates (92.7%), did not wear food handler’s uniforms and head gear (68.9%) and majority (91.4) had no evidence of hand-washing on food serving sites.  Almost half (54.2%) of the vendors prepared their foods at home and transported to town using public means (62.6%). The majority (86.8%) of Cooked Foods vending sites were makeshift stations and (40.4%) of them had reportedly been infested with rodents. Based on this study, the cooked food vendors did not comply with most of the Zimbabwean food safety and basic hygiene standards enshrined mostly in the Food and Food Standards Act Chapter 15:04. As a corrective measure to this dire situation Masvingo City’s Environmental Health Department need to invest much in educating the Food Handlers on Basic Food Hygiene also ensuring that all Vendors are medically examined and certified free from all infectious diseases of public health importance. Designated food vending sites with safe running water and ablution facilities should be provided for the food vendors for improved food safety.  

Key words: Handling practices, street vendors, cooked food

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