Assessing relationships between microbiota and food handler practices in delicatessen sections: an interdisciplinary approach

05 Nov 2020

The interactions between microbiota and food handler practices in the delicatessen sections of a major retail group in the Western Cape were investigated in order to establish possible relationships between food handler practices and microbial contamination. The microbiota analyzed included total viable counts, total coliforms, Escherichia coli, members of the family Enterobacteriaceae and Staphylococcus aureus on hands and aprons of food handlers. Various groups of food handler practices were identified, using a questionnaire, and compared with microbial counts on hands and/or aprons by means of the Kruskal?Wallis and Mann?Whitney tests. Variables were described by means, standard deviations, medians and percentiles. A statistically significant difference occurred with regard to Enterobacteriaceae counts on aprons (P?=?0.01) between respondents who had received and those who never had received (1) training in personal hygiene as well as (2) training in general hygiene. In both instances, respondents who had received training proved to have higher Enterobacteriaceae counts on their aprons in particular, and the maximum values of the organism counts were also much higher. Several studies have indicated that although training might bring about an increased knowledge of food safety, this does not always result in a positive change. Therefore, the type and effectiveness of training needs to be addressed.