50 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Food hygiene in hospital poses peculiar problems, particularly given the presence of patients whocould be more vulnerable than healthy subjects to microbiological and nutritional risks. Moreover, in nosocomialoutbreaks of infectious intestinal disease, the mortality risk has been proved to be significantly higher than thecommunity outbreaks and highest for foodborne outbreaks. On the other hand, the common involvement in therole of food handlers of nurses or domestic staff, not specifically trained about food hygiene and HACCP, mayrepresent a further cause of concern.The purpose of this study was to evaluate knowledge, attitudes, and practices concerning food safety of thenursing staff of two hospitals in Palermo, Italy. Association with some demographic and work-relateddeterminants was also investigated.Methods: The survey was conducted, by using a semi-structured questionnaire, in March-November 2005 in anacute general hospital and a paediatric hospital, where nursing staff is routinely involved in food service functions.Results: Overall, 401 nurses (279, 37.1%, of the General Hospital and 122, 53.5%, of the Paediatric Hospital,respectively) answered. Among the respondents there was a generalized lack of knowledge about etiologic agentsand food vehicles associated to foodborne diseases and proper temperatures of storage of hot and cold ready toeat foods. A general positive attitude towards temperature control and using clothing and gloves, when handlingfood, was shared by the respondents nurses, but questions about cross-contamination, refreezing and handlingunwrapped food with cuts or abrasions on hands were frequently answered incorrectly. The practice sectionperformed better, though sharing of utensils for raw and uncooked foods and thawing of frozen foods at roomtemperatures proved to be widely frequent among the respondents. Age, gender, educational level and length ofservice were inconsistently associated with the answer pattern.More than 80% of the respondent nurses did not attend any educational course on food hygiene. Those whoattended at least one training course fared significantly better about some knowledge issues, but no differencewas detected in both the attitude and practice sections.Conclusion: Results strongly emphasize the need for a safer management of catering in the hospitals, where nonprofessional food handlers, like nursing or domestic staff, are involved in food service functions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume7 (1)
Publication statusPublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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