Mass feeding which is carried out at most SHS to feed students stands a higher risk of microbiological contamination relative to small scale food preparation because of issues associated with handling. This study thus, was aimed at determining the microbial safety of foods served in some selected Senior High Schools. Eighteen (18) food samples including breakfast, lunch and supper were sampled from four (4) selected SHS in the Cape Coast Metropolis. Samples collected were subjected to microbial analysis for estimation of Escherichia coli (EC), Salmonella species (SS), Staphylococcus aureus (SA), Bacillus cereus (BC), total viable count (TVC) and total coliform levels (TC). Microbial counts were expressed as means and the data exported to IBM SPSS v25. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine statistically significant difference of microbial loads between all samples. The schools had all their food samples falling within acceptable limits for TVC which implies that the general hygiene status of the food samples is satisfactory. However only one school had all its samples falling within acceptable limits for TC, the rest had 25% -30% contamination from pathogens hence a setback in the efficiency of sanitation programs in SHS. With the exception of two different schools with each having its food samples falling within the acceptable limits for SA and SS, the remaining had 25%-50% contamination from SA and 25% contamination from SS. For BC there was 25% contamination from all the schools. Staphylococcus aureus had the highest percentage occurrence in the food samples followed by B. cereus and E. coli respectively. Contaminations such as TVC, TC, SA, SS and BC are usually due to absence of consistent rigorous surveillance and weak implementation of the law in institutional kitchens thus a system to monitor and control the generally food chain in the country from farm to fork, including suppliers of raw materials to SHS is required.

1.0 Background Statement
Universally, infections from ingesting food contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites are the major health problem associated with food (Nguyen-Viet et al., 2017). Microbial contamination may occur as a result of pathogens in foods. This is usually caused by cross-contamination including unsatisfactory cleanliness of staff, the surroundings and/or by inadequate conditions such as temperature abuse or inadequate cooking that facilitate microbial growth or survival (Osimani et al., 2013). Contamination normally ensues during food preparation or serving however it might occur at any point from farm to fork (Ameme et al., 2016). Foodborne diseases are usually caused by ingesting foods contaminated with some microorganisms and this encompass a wide range of illnesses (Osimani et al., 2013). Although most of the cases resulting from foodborne diseases are trivial, a significant number of incidence are lethal thus a lot of money is lost as a result of medical expenses, decrease productivity and recurrent recalls due to high prevalence of severe infections and chronic sequelae (Saba and Gonzalez-Zorn, 2012). For instance, in Ghana, one out of forty persons suffer severe food borne disease annually which cost the government US $ 69,000,000.00 since 420,000 cases on foodborne diseases are stated with a yearly death rate of 65,000 (Ababio and Lovatt, 2015).

Food safety, has thus become an increasingly important public health issue (Osimani et al., 2013) as it is a critical aspect in the progress of developing countries worldwide (Saba and Gonzalez-Zorn, 2012). It is even more vital in catering for mass institutions because of the huge amount of meals served in establishments such as schools, hospitals, child cares, businesses and canteens worldwide every day (Osimani et al., 2013). Mass catering is carried out at most Senior High School (SHS) to feed boarding students and in some cases even the day student. Deliberate or accidental contamination of food during bulk catering may threaten the health of the consumers as it may leads to foodborne illness, outbreaks such as this feature prominently in national statistics thus may have negative consequences on a country (Annor and Baiden, 2016). Meals served in dining halls of SHS are mostly prepared ready-to-eat meals which requires adequate hot holding temperature and time control for safety (Ababio et al., 2016). Students lodging on school campuses of Senior High Schools (SHS) in the country are feed three times daily (Ababio et al.,2016). Thus the development, welfare and the overall healthy lifestyle of SHS student is highly dependent on the school communal feeding programmes (Ababio et al., 2016). It is therefore essential to government and other stake holders to provide students with safe meals as it enhances their wellbeing, development and progress of beneficiaries and encourages sustainable education in developing countries (Ababio et al., 2016). In the provision of meals, it is vital that precautionary principles are applied with respect to food handling and preparation safety to ensure not just a nutritious meal but a meal free of harmful pathogens. It is only when the food is safe that the children will obtain the full nutritional benefit (Owusu, 2010).

Nevertheless the government and stakeholders are still faced with amassed reports of foodborne infection from schools (Ababio et al., 2016). Saba and Gonzalez-Zorn (2012) reported the decline of microbiological food safety. Also, according to Ababio and Lovatt (2015) there is still work to be done on microbiological safety and quality of institutional meals such as schools and hospitals. Information on microbial safety of food is scant and most especially that in Senior High Schools. In essence, the microbial safety of foods served to senior high school students need to be critically examined and this is the focus of this study.

1.1 Problem Statement
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) reports, food poisoning fatal cases that occur worldwide annually is approximately 2 million and this happens particularly in developing countries (Lund, 2015). Recent estimates by WHO, indicates that in Africa, 700,000 deaths annually are as a result of food and water-borne related diseases (Mama and Alemu, 2016) of which Ghana is not an exception. There is documented evidence that show that mass feed programes are often associated with microbial contaminated foods. In Ghana the School Feeding Programme has also been running, however there are no strong monitoring of food safety issues associated with the programme and this could lead to possible advert Health effect. Thus this study seek to determine the level of microbial contamination in food samples of some selected senior high schools.

1.4 Justification of Research
Although there are rampant reports on food poisoning cases on the media, most especially from institutional set ups particularly in schools, much research focus has been concentrated on commercial food sector in the country, with special attention given to street foods (Ababio and Lovatt, 2015). Presently, though there are no reliable estimates globally for the encumbrance of foodborne diseases, 1.9 million children are killed globally every year by diarrheal diseases alone-which form a sizeable proportion of foodborne diseases (Ameme et al., 2016). Microbial contamination is cause by the incidence of pathogens in foods (Osimani et al., 2013). In Ghana microbiological food contamination is alarming however research has shown a decline on the study of microbiological safety of foods (Saba and Gonzalez-Zorn, 2012).

It is therefore imperative to determine the incidence and level of microbes in the foods served at some selected Senior High School. The result of this study would contribute to academic knowledge on the microbial safety of foods served to student at Senior High Schools. Furthermore, it would provide adequate information for policy-makers to apportion appropriate resources for food safety control and intervention efforts in the preparation of foods served to student at Senior High Schools. Thus resulting in the prevention of foodborne diseases and food poisoning outbreaks in schools and the nation as a whole.

1.2 Objectives
To provide important basis for policy formulation for an effective food safety regulation for foods prepared for students at Senior High Schools to prevent outbreak of foodborne diseases and food poisoning in schools and to improve food safety in the school as a whole. Hence this study specifically is to determine the microbial safety of foods served in some selected Senior High Schools.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 55 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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