Assessing beef vendors’ compliance with food safety standards in Kamuli district, Uganda, and consumers’ beef handling practices in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Date
2023-05
Authors
Nabwiire, Lillian
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Shaw, Angela M
Talbert, Joey N
Nonnecke, Gail R
Tarte, Rodrigo
Boylston, Terri
Prusa, Kenneth J
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Food Science and Human Nutrition
Abstract
Stakeholders along the beef supply chain need to play their mandatory or voluntary role to ensure that beef available for consumption is protected from contamination. We conducted a study with 60 butcheries in Kamuli district in Uganda with an objective to determine if vendors complied with the standards for hygiene requirements for butcheries (US 736:2019), and to identify any resources available to support vendors. A validated survey questionnaire and observation checklist that were based on the standard (US 736:2019) were used in the study. In-depth interviews were conducted with two personnel from the veterinary and public health departments of Kamuli district. Results from the study showed that beef vendors complied with the inspection, storage, and some sanitation and hygiene requirements of the standards, but violations occurred within the beef transportation and butchery construction requirements. From the self-reported survey, 96.7% (n = 58) of vendors sold inspected beef, 83.3% (n = 50) of butchery facilities were inspected at least once a month and all vendors stored meat for less than 36 hours with 67.9% (n = 36) storing beef by hanging inside the butchery. Additionally, 76.7% (n = 46) of beef vendors reported washing handling tools with water and soap, 50% (n = 30) packaged beef in woven polypropylene bags, 60% (n = 36) transported beef to butcheries using motorcycles, and 96.7% (n = 58) cleaned butcheries every day. During the observational assessment, all beef vendors had short hair, short fingernails and did not wear jewelry, 90% (n = 54) of butchery walls were dirty, and flies were present at 80% (n = 48) of facilities. Butcheries were constructed with wooden walls (71.7%, n = 43), and their floors were either wooden or bare ground (65%, n = 39). Only 15% (n = 9) of beef vendors wore protective clothing when handling beef. Vendors were provided with services such as inspection, movement permits and received information about food safety requirements. We concluded that to increase compliance with food safety standards, food safety interventions with beef vendors in Kamuli district need to focus on the safe transportation of meat, construction of butchery facilities, and personal hygiene practices when handling beef. The second study assessed consumers’ beef handling practices in the U.S. Virgin Islands from shopping to consumption with a goal of identifying food safety educational needs for consumers. A 30-question food handling questionnaire on consumption patterns and food handling practices from purchasing to the kitchen was distributed to 334 respondents using online and face-to-face methods. Frequencies and Pearson Chi-square tests of independence were performed. Results showed that beef ranked second in consumption of the different meat types, 92% of consumers bought beef from grocery stores, and 55% removed it from shelves immediately after entering the store. When shopping, 59.1% of respondents always checked expiration dates of beef, 46.3% always separated beef from other foods, but only 27.5% always used insulated bags. Eighty-three percent of consumers returned home within one hour of shopping, 92% took less than 30 minutes to store groceries in either a freezer or refrigerator (98%), and during power outages, 45.1% maintained cold temperatures of beef. Seventy two percent of consumers washed hands for more than 10 seconds, but about 33% of respondents from households with a vulnerable person did not use soap to wash hands and dried their hands with reusable towels. When cooking, 44.6% of consumers thawed beef under the temperature danger-zone, 80.1% did not check the temperature of beef for doneness, and 34 respondents cooked hamburgers below 160oF. From this study, we concluded that future food safety education initiatives for beef consumers in USVI should address hand hygiene among food preparers in homes with vulnerable persons and emphasize temperature control of beef during holding and cooking. Overall, both beef vendors in Kamuli district and beef consumers in USVI were involved in activities that could positively or negatively influence the safety of beef regardless of their obligation to follow food safety standards. The practices and violations that can compromise the safety of beef as identified from the two target groups could be addressed separately with the awareness of the differences in the goals of the two stakeholders (vendors and consumers) and the unique challenges experienced by each of the groups.
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