W. Birke, F. Zawide
May 1, 2019
Environment and Ecology Research
On April 7, 2015 when WHO celebrated the World Health Day, the slogan was “From Farm to Plate, Make Food Safe”. On this day the Jimma University launched the campaign to create public awareness on food safety by organizing a one-day workshop for over 100 residents representing consumers, food service providers, government regulators, health extension workers, teachers and community leaders. The Jimma University’s, Environmental Health and Technology Department has been conducting research on food safety since 2009 and the event of the 2015 World Health Day created an opportunity to present the research findings to the community members in order to reach a consensus on how to transform research results to concrete action in a participatory approach. Our research on food safety constituted community based cross-sectional survey of randomly selected 825 households and 718 food establishments in 13 Sub-cities of Jimma town, Southwestern Ethiopia. Evaluation of food safety knowledge, attitude, and practice of households and food service establishments was conducted using pretested and structured questionnaires for the interview. The proper enforcement of the current food safety laws and regulations by local government health inspectors and health extension workers and the procedure applied was evaluated on the basis of the critical role inspection plays in providing the different stakeholders the education, information and motivation necessary to make informed decisions on food safety. Different levels of compliance of food establishments to current food laws and regulations were assessed including reasons for noncompliance. Intervention measures to remove barriers to compliance were identified and the necessary actions to be taken to improve hygiene practices of food handlers and the sanitary condition of food premises to prevent the outbreak of foodborne diseases in the community were presented in the workshop. The outcome of the workshop was awareness creation and preparation of action plan to improve food safety of households and catering establishments in Jimma town. The study provides evidence based food hygiene and safety behaviors of households and micro and small food establishments that have significant health and economic impact. The study recommends the strengthening of the food inspection and laboratory services; development of laboratory based foodborne disease surveillance system, extension of the local, regional and national information, education and communication services and ensuring the safety of food imports and exports. It concludes by suggesting the way forward to advance food safety in Ethiopia with specific recommendation.