Objective: Food handlers play an important role in ensuring food safety throughout the chain of production, processing, storage and preparation. This study was aimed to determine knowledge, attitude and practice of food handlers towards food-borne diseases and food safety and to evaluate the effectiveness of the health education program.
Materials and methods: A non-randomized control trial was conducted. All food handlers in two sub-district of Kota Bharu namely Peringat (intervention group) and Ketereh (control group) of Kelantan state (n = 430) were included in the study. They were interviewed by using a structured questionnaire. The intervention group was given health education on food-borne diseases and food safety. The control group was given health education on healthy eating. Repeated measures analysis of variance analysis was applied.
Results: Most of food handlers had adequate knowledge in mode of transmission (82.1%) and mode of prevention (83.3%) towards food-borne diseases. Poor knowledge was more towards etiology (41.2 %), symptoms (40.7%) and treatment (47.4%). Almost half of food handlers (48.4%) had poor knowledge scores. Almost all food handlers had good attitude towards food-borne diseases including awareness of seriousness (93.5%), belief as curable disease (99.1%), belief as a preventable disease (94.4%) and belief the importance of training program (95.3%). Nearly half of food handlers had poor practice towards hand washing (49.1%), treatment (49.8%) and safety food handling (45.3%). The food handlers in intervention and control groups had similar sociodemographic distribution. The improvement of the knowledge and practice scores in intervention group were significantly higher than those of in control group.
Conclusion: This study suggested that health education program is an essential component in improving the knowledge and practice of food handlers towards food-borne diseases and food safety. Furthermore, it will in turn reduce national morbidity and mortality of food-borne diseases.