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Evaluation of the hygiene of ready-to-eat food preparation areas and practices in mobile food vendors in the UK

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This study was undertaken to assess the cleanliness of food preparation areas, cleaning methods used, and the microbiological quality of water used by 1258 mobile food vendors in the UK. Samples collected included potable water (1102), cleaning cloths (801) and environmental swabs from food preparation surfaces (2704). Cleaning cloths were more heavily contaminated with Aerobic Colony Counts, Enterobacteriaceae, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus compared to surfaces sampled. Surfaces that were visually dirty, wet, and chopping boards that were plastic or damaged also had high levels of these bacteria. Fifty-four percent of potable water samples were of poor microbiological quality; i.e. contained coliforms, E. coli and/or enterococci. A documented food safety management system was only evident in 40.1% of vendors and cleaning schedules were only used by 43.6%. Deficiencies in the correct use of cleaning materials, such as dilution factors and the minimum contact time for disinfectants, were identified.
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Keywords: cleaning practices; food safety; hygiene practices; hygiene standards; mobile food vendors

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, London, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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