Hygiene Practices during Food Preparation in Rural Bangladesh: Opportunities to Improve the Impact of Handwashing Interventions
Abstract, American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2016 August
This study explored the steps of food preparation, related handwashing opportunities, current practices, and community perceptions regarding foods at high-risk of contamination such as mashed foods and salads. In three rural Bangladeshi villages, we collected qualitative and observational data. Food preparation was a complex and multistep process. Food preparation was interrupted by tasks that could contaminate the preparers' hands, after which they continued food preparation without washing hands. Community members typically ate hand-mixed, uncooked mashed food and salad as accompaniments to curry and rice at meals. Hand-mixed dried foods were mostly consumed as a snack. Observers recorded handwashing during preparation of these foods. Among 24 observed caregivers, of 85 opportunities to wash hands with soap during food preparation, washing hands with soap occurred twice, both times after cutting fish, whereas washing hands with water alone was common. A simple and feasible approach is promotion of handwashing with soap upon entering and re-entering the food preparation area, and ensuring that everything needed for handwashing should be within easy reach.