One hundred and forty five head chefs and catering managers of restaurants in Owerri, Nigeria were surveyed to establish their knowledge of food safety hazards and control measures. Face-to-face interviews were conducted and data collected on their knowledge of risk perception, food handling practices, temperature control, foodborne pathogens, and personal hygiene. Ninety-two percent reported that they cleaned and sanitized food equipment and contact surfaces while 37% engaged in cross-contamination practices. Forty-nine percent reported that they would allow a sick person to handle food. Only 70% reported that they always washed their hands while 6% said that they continued cooking after cracking raw eggs. All respondents said that they washed their hands after handling raw meat, chicken or fish. About 35% lacked knowledge of ideal refrigeration temperature while 6% could not adjust refrigerator temperature. Only 40%, 28%, and 21% had knowledge of Salmonella, E. coli, and Hepatitis A, respectively while 8% and 3% had knowledge of Listeria and Vibrio respectively, as pathogens. Open markets and private bore holes supplied most of their foods and water, respectively. Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient analysis revealed almost perfect linear relationship between education and knowledge of pathogens ( r = 0.999), cooking school attendance and food safety knowledge ( r = 0.992), and class of restaurant and food safety knowledge ( r = 0.878). The lack of current knowledge of food safety among restaurant staff highlights increased risk associated with fast foods and restaurants in Owerri.
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