alexa Hygiene and good practices in school meal services: Organic matter on surfaces, microorganisms and health risks


Journal of Food: Microbiology, Safety & Hygiene

Author(s): Ana Beatriz Almeida de Oliveir, Diogo Thimoteo da Cunha, Elke Stedefeldt, Roberta Capalonga, Eduardo Cesar Tondo

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The aim of this study was to evaluate and classify the sanitation and hygiene conditions in Porto Alegre/Rio Grande do Sul (RS) public schools using an analysis of surfaces that come in contact with food and a food safety checklist validated for the school environment. The following mesophilic heterotrophic bacteria count medians were observed on each piece of equipment or utensil studied: countertops, 27.3 Colony-Forming Units (CFU)/cm2; cutting boards, 15 CFU/cm2; blenders, 14.5 CFU/cm2; dishes, 2 CFU/cm2; and refrigerators, 1 CFU/cm2. The median of the surface measurements analyzed by adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence was less than 40 Relative Light Units (RLU)/100 cm2 for all equipment and utensils, except for the countertop surface, which had a median of 52.5 RLU/100 cm2. The data from 120 schools showed that 33, 64 and 3% were classified as high, regular and low health risk, respectively. The results showed that most schools were exposed to cross-contamination with failures especially with regard to environmental hygiene and procedures. Failures related to both factors potentially raise the risk of outbreaks in this environment. The scores used enabled the classification of school meal services and the identification of the points that need more attention. Intervention strategies that target different aspects of food handling, not only knowledge, may be promising in this scenario, which may address problems that mainly involve the food handler and promote changes in food handling practices.

This article was published in Food Control and referenced in Journal of Food: Microbiology, Safety & Hygiene

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