Domestic and Food hygiene

Why does domestic and food hygiene matter?

Preventable and treatable food-borne diseases are a major cause of illness globally. Inadequate food hygiene is likely to cause a substantial proportion of foodborne infections including diarrhoea among infants and young children. Up to 70% of diarrhoea in developing countries is said to be caused by pathogens transmitted through food and contaminated weaning foods are suggested to be the major contributor. A large part of the food-borne disease burden is concentrated among infants, children, the elderly and the sick, creating a vicious cycle of diarrhoea and malnutrition. Although proper food handling, preparation, storage, and feeding practices may prevent many food-borne diseases, each year millions of people become ill and thousands die from these diseases. The home food hygiene practices of family members especially mothers and grandmothers are important because both have the potential to influence family members, particularly children in low income settings.

Reducing food contamination is a high research priority for diarrhoeal diseases control as home based foods are considered a major route of pathogen transmission and contamination is linked to specific food hygiene practices. However much of the research in this area is based on observational studies and these to date have given inconclusive results. Food-borne diseases are a problem both in high and low income settings but information on food-borne infections in low-income settings is generally reliant on expert opinion and biological plausibility, rather than field data. Frequently, studies of why children suffer from diarrhoea overlook factors related to food safety and its hygiene. Very few intervention studies have been carried out and with little effort directed to studies health outcomes such as the reduction of childhood diarrhoea and malnutrition.

To learn more about why food hygiene matters listen to Om Prasad Guatam explain why he has made it his area of focus in the video below.
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Key research and Contributions to this field:

Food Hygiene is one of the EHG’s priorities both from research as well as programmatic point of view. Our effort in this arena will is focused on generating new knowledgea and minimizing the evidence gap. We are also working towards the production of a food hygiene intervention package to be implemented through WASH, Health, Nutrition and other relevant sectors. Much of our work in this area has been funded by the SHARE consortium.

Bangladesh weaning food study:

This study into weaning food in Bangladesh showed that a hygiene intervention following the HACCP approach (Hazard analysis and critical control points) reduced the weaning food contamination significantly.

Mali weaning food study:

This study conducted in peri-urban Mali, found that the HACCP approach can lead to effective measures for improving home food safety, and is applicable with modest resources for promotion of food hygiene and safety in a low-income community.

Some of our current research in this area:

omFood Hygiene in Nepal As part of his PhD research Om Prasad Gautam designed a study to implement a simple, feasible and replicable food hygiene intervention and assess the effect of this intervention on mothers’ food hygiene practices, and to assess the impact of the interventions on the level of microbiological contamination in food and diarrhoeal diseases burden.

Publications related to domestic and food hygiene:

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