Scoping review of food safety at transport stations in Africa

BMJ Open. 2021 Nov 25;11(11):e053856. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-053856.


OBJECTIVE: The WHO has declared food safety as a public health concern. Transport hubs such as taxi ranks, bus stations and other transport exchange sites are major food trading/purchasing sites, particularly in Africa. Research evidence is needed to improve food safety policies and ensure consumption of safe food, owing to the increasing burden of foodborne diseases, particularly in the WHO Africa Region. We systematically mapped and described research evidence on food safety at transport stations in Africa.

DESIGN: A scoping review guided by the Arksey and O’Malley framework.

DATA SOURCES: We searched for original research articles in PubMed, Web of Science, and EBSCOhost (Academic search complete, CINAHL with Full-text and Health Source), SCOPUS, and Google Scholar from their inception to 25 October 2020.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR SELECTING STUDIES: We included studies that focused on food safety, involved transport stations, involved African countries and were published in English.

DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: Data extraction was performed by two reviewers using a piloted-tested form. Thematic analysis was used to organise the data into themes and subthemes, and a narrative summary of the findings is presented.

RESULTS: Of the total 23 852 articles obtained from the database searches, 16 studies published in 6 countries met the inclusion criteria. These 16 studies were published between 1997 and 2019, with the most (5) in 2014. Of the 16 studies, 43.8% (7) were conducted in South Africa, 3 studies in Ghana, 2 in Ethiopia and 1 study each in Nigeria, Kenya, Lesotho and Zambia. Most (44.4%) of the included studies focused on microbial safety of food; few studies (22.2%) focused on hygienic practices, and one study investigated the perspective of consumers or buyers. Microbes detected in the foods samples were Salmonella spp, Escherichia coli, Shigella spp, Bacillus sp, Staphylococcus aureus, which resulted mainly from poor hygiene practices.

CONCLUSIONS: There is limited research that focused on food safety at transport stations in Africa, especially on aspects such as hygiene practices, food storage and occupational health and food safety. Therefore, we recommend more research in these areas, using various primary study designs, to inform and improve food safety policies and practices for transport stations in African countries alongside improving access to clean water/handwashing facilities, and undertaking structural changes to facilitate behaviours and monitoring for unintended consequences such as livelihoods of vulnerable populations.

PMID:34824120 | DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-053856

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