Critical Control Points of Complementary Food Preparation and Handling in Eastern Nigeria

Article excerpt

Objective To investigate microbial contamination and critical control points (CCPs) in the preparation and handling of complementary foods in 120 households in Imo state, Nigeria.

Methods The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) approach was used to investigate processes and procedures that contributed to microbial contamination, growth and survival, and to identify points where controls could be applied to prevent or eliminate these microbiological hazards or reduce them to acceptable levels. Food samples were collected and tested microbiologically at different stages of preparation and handling.

Findings During cooking, all foods attained temperatures capable of destroying vegetative forms of food-borne pathogens. However, the risk of contamination increased by storage of food at ambient temperature, by using insufficiently high temperatures to reheat the food, and by adding contaminated ingredients such as dried ground crayfish and soybean powder at stages where no further heat treatment was applied. The purchasing of contaminated raw foodstuffs and ingredients, particularly raw akamu, from vendors in open markets is also a CCP.

Conclusion Although an unsafe environment poses many hazards for children's food, the hygienic quality of prepared food can be assured if basic food safety principles are observed. When many factors contribute to food contamination, identification of CCPs becomes particularly important and can facilitate appropriate targeting of resources and prevention efforts.

Keywords Diarrhea, Infantile/etiology; Infant food/microbiology; Food contamination/analysis; Water microbiology; Food handling; Food hygiene; Risk assessment; Task performance and analysis; Nigeria (source: MeSH).

Mots cles Diarrhee, infantile/etiologie; Aliments pour nourrisson/microbiologie; Contamination alimentaire/analyse; Microbiologie eau; Traitement aliments; Hygiene alimentaire; Evaluation risque; Analyse performance; Nigeria (source: INSERM).

Palabras clave Diarrea, infantil/etiologia; Alimentos infantiles/microbiologia; Contaminacion de alimentos/analisis; Microbiologia del agua; Manipulacion de alimentos; Higiene alimentaria; Medicion del riesgo; Analisis del desempeno de tareas; Nigeria (fuente: BIREME).

Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2001, 79: 423-433.

Voir page 431 le resume en francais. En la pagina 432 figura un resumen en espanol.


Measures of child health are useful indicators of the health of a nation, particularly for Nigeria where children constitute about 45% of the total population (1). The country's infant mortality rate of 114 per 1000 live births is among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa and mortality among children under five years of age is as high as 300 per 1000 live births in some parts of the country. (2). Epidemiological evidence shows that diarrhoea is a major problem, with an estimated one-in-six children under the age of five years experiencing at least one episode every fortnight (1). Children aged 4-24 months are at the greatest risk of developing diarrhoea from contaminated food and water. Normally, breast milk is the main source of nourishment for children within their first months of life. The dependence on breast milk reduces their exposure to food-borne pathogens, and the anti-infective properties of breast milk also afford some protection. Between 4 and 6 months of age, however, complementary foods are given, and children are thus exposed to food-borne pathogens (3). For example, a study of 454 children in eastern Nigeria (4) showed that the incidence of diarrhoea was highest among children aged between 6 and 12 months -- the age range which coincides with the usual weaning period in the region. The development of sustainable strategies for controlling diarrhoea among children in the region, and in the country as a whole, would thus constitute a significant advance in public health. …


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