The safety of street foods remains a public health concern especially in developing countries like Kenya where foodborne illnesses associated with these foods have often been reported. This study determined the food hygiene and safety knowledge and practices of 345 street food vendors (SFVs) in selected locations within Kiambu County, Kenya. Data collection was accomplished through face-to-face interviews using structured questionnaires and extensive observation using an assessment tool for observation of personal hygiene and food handling practices of SFVs and the condition of the vending environment. The results indicated that the majority of the SFVs were male (63.2%) with 38.1% of them having attained secondary school education. About 93% of the SFVs had not received any formal training on food hygiene and safety. Majority of SFVs handled food with bare hands (96.8%) or handled money while serving food without washing hands (86.1%). Few also practiced preservation with 78.3% storing foodstuff that required refrigeration at ambient temperatures while 22.3% stored leftovers without any form of preservation and sold them the following day. Whereas public health officers’ visits were found to significantly (P<0.0001) motivate SFVs to obtain a food handler's medical certificate, only about 27% had obtained it. These findings suggest that street vended foods sold in this study area may pose a significant potential hazard to public health due to the poor hygiene and handling practices reported.
Key words: Street vended food, food safety, food hygiene, public health, street food legislation.
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