Hygiene and safety practices in the street food sector in Ecuador
Foodborne diseases are also one of the causes of morbidity and mortality in Ecuador (PAHO, 2016). The Ministry of Health reported cases of foodborne diseases in 2018 (MSP, 2019). The consumption of street food by the population is increasing by the rhythm of life and work schedules. Traditional methods of preparation and distribution, inadequate temperatures and times, and improper personal hygiene of food handlers are possible sources of contamination that compromise the safety of street food (El Comercio, 2017, 2019). Seeking to minimise these risk factors, the government improved the conditions of spots rented for street food vending within municipal markets in recent years. However, street food vendors do not have to meet specific requirements regarding controlling hygiene practices (Lawrence & Castro, 2006). The National health control and surveillance regulation agency of the country has developed a health education program for street food vendors with the municipalities in the last few years. However, the current food safety training addresses issues in general without specifying the conditions of the street food sector. Training programs based on theoretical aspects are useful for increasing knowledge but not changing street food vendors' behaviour (da Cunha, Stedefeldt, & de Rosso, 2014). Applying the theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) can help craft effective food safety education and develop practical strategies for street food vendors to improve their safety and hygiene-related behaviour.
The research aims to develop scientifically underpinned tools based on the theory of planned behaviour to improve street food vendors' hygiene practices in Ecuador.
The techno-managerial (TM) approach will be used in this research to systematically analyse and explain the dynamic mechanisms of food and human behaviour and their interaction (Luning & Marcelis, 2006). This approach emphasises that the characteristics of food (i.e. street food) and the technological infrastructure, as well as the characteristics of people and the managerial conditions, potentially influence the quality and safety of food. The concurrent analysis of the technological circumstances in street food production and behavioural analysis of the people operating in the specific business context of street food vendors will provide broad insight into factors that could hamper safety and hygiene behaviour as the basis for the improvement interventions.
Future research will address the specific research questions are:
- What is the current state of the control measures regarding hygiene and safety-related activities in the street food sector?
- How to develop tools to assess hygiene and safety-related practices in the street food sector based on behavioural theories?
- To what extent do the potential factors influence hygiene and safety-related practices among municipal markets?
- What kind of interventions based on behavioural theories could enhance street food vendors' hygiene and safety-related practices?
- What are the recommendations for the government to support behavioural changes in street food vendors?
- da Cunha, D. T., Stedefeldt, E., & de Rosso, V. V. (2014). The role of theoretical food safety training on Brazilian food handlers’ knowledge, attitude and practice. Food Control, 43, 167–174. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.FOODCONT.2014.03.012
- El Comercio. (2017, February 7). 47% de alimentos de la calle incumple normas,segun la Secretaria de Salud. Salud. Retrieved from https://www.elcomercio.com/tendencias/alimentos-calle-contaminacion-enfermedades-secretariadesalud.html
- El Comercio. (2019, July 17). Estudio detecta coliformes fecales en comidas se expenden en las calles de Quito, Guayaquil y Cuenca. Sociedad.
- Lawrence, P., & Castro, S. (2006). Government Intervention in Street Vending Activities in Guayaquil, Ecuador: A case study of vendors in the municipal markets. Project Management Journal, 37(144), 145–170.
- Luning, P. A., & Marcelis, W. J. (2006). A techno-managerial approach in food quality management research. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 17(7), 378–385. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2006.01.012
- MSP. (2019). Subsistema de Vigilancia SIVE- ALERTA. Enfermedades transmitidas por agua y alimentos Ecuador, SE 1-28, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/foodborne_disease/fergreport/es/
- PAHO. (2016). Country Report: Ecuador. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.paho.org/salud-en-las-americas-2017/?page_id=117