Celyrah B. Castillo
Food safety practices of food handlers play significant role in making sure that food is kept clean from the preparation, cooking process and up to the time it is served to the customers (Mohan 2006). This study assessed the compliance to food safety standards anchored on Presidential Decree 856, Code on Sanitation of the Philippines that promulgates indicators of appropriate practices in food safety and sanitation of ambulant food vendors in Science City of Munoz and San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, Philippines. Responses were elicited from ambulant vendors and street food consumers and were treated using descriptive statistics, Pearson product moment correlation (r) and t-test. The study revealed that ambulant food vendors complied the highest on the procurement of raw materials, congruent with the street food consumers’ perception. Compliance of ambulant food vendors to general requirement, general appearance, water and ice used, preparation and handling, washing of utensils and distribution and point of sale were generally often observed as reported by the ambulant food vendors and perceived by the street food consumers. The results indicated a significant difference on the compliance to food safety standards of ambulant food vendors on procurement of raw materials, distribution and point of sale and overall compliance to standards, where vendors from San Jose City showed higher degree of compliance. Food safety is a multi-sectoral concern, thus, private and public sectors must create series of programs, particularly on education and information dissemination about food safety practices. These must include lectures and hands-on activities to be participated by food vendors and consumers that will help augment their knowledge on food safety practices. Regular monitoring on the part of the government must be conducted as a fundamental ascendency to ensure that small and medium scale food handlers are primary initiators of food safety in the country.
Keywords: Food safety, food handling and practices, ambulant vendors, street food consumers, Code on Sanitation of the Philippines