Food safety practices of food handlers at home engaged in online food businesses during COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines

Elsevier, Current Research in Food Science, Volume 4, January 2021
Authors: 
Limon M.R.

This study was conducted to assess the self-reported and observed food safety practices (FSP) of food handlers, who deliver food products that are prepared and cooked at home during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines. 751 participated in the online survey who were selected using criterion sampling. A questionnaire developed by the researcher was used to gather data with Cronbach Alpha of 0.91. t-test, ANOVA, and Fleiss kappa were performed to treat data. There were no significant differences between self-reported FSP in four dimensions and demographic characteristics, except for age, where a significant difference exists between the FSP of the four age groups along food preparation (F ​= ​4.530,ρ<0.01). The FSP in the four dimensions obtained a weighted x¯ and σ of 1.72 ​± ​0.69 which is interpreted as Sometimes Practiced. The food handlers at home inadequately and inappropriately practiced the protocols in keeping the food safe to eat. The observed reports showed that the food handlers at home do not meet food safety standards as indicated in the weighted x¯ and σ in the four dimensions 1.63 ± 0.11, with a description of Sometimes Practiced. Observed practices further show very poor adherence to guidelines. Test for inter-rater reliability yielded almost perfect agreement (κ ​= ​0.81, ρ<0.05). There exists a significant difference with the FSP in personal hygiene (t ​= ​0.964, ρ<0.05), cross-contamination prevention and sanitation (t ​= ​0.815, ρ<0.05), food preparation (t ​= ​0.753, ρ<0.05), and food delivery (t ​= ​0.794, ρ<0.05). Government and non-government agencies should work together towards educating the food handlers at home on effective ways to learn about food safety concepts so they could become advocates of safer food practices.