What is it about?

The foodservice industry in Malaysia become more attractive as a results of change in life style from home cooking to “dining out” especially among urban dwellers, and lead to the phenomenon ‘mushrooming’ of the local food industry. This has created a high demand for manpower in the food service industry resulting in the increase of employment of migrant workers from6.6% in 2000 to 11.9% in 2013. Unfortunately, an upward trend of food poisoning cases was also recorded with more than half of the linked to insanitary food handling. Numerous studies have highlighted the need for food safety training and education for food handlers, due to lack of knowledge on microbiological food hazards, optimal food storage temperatures, risks of cross contamination and the importance of personal hygiene. At present, to the best of our knowledge, there have not been any attempt to determine the food safety knowledge status of migrant food handlers in Malaysia. Many previous studies on food safety knowledge in Malaysia have all focused on specific groups such as youth and local food handlers. Therefore, it is highly relevant to gauge the extent of food safety knowledge particularly migrant food handlers due to the increased labor demand in the food service sector, and the impact on the general health status of the public. This study aimed to explore the socio-demographic profile of migrant food handlers and evaluate the basic knowledge on food safety and food handling practices through questionnaire with a series of pertinent questions.

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Why is it important?

The study’s findings highlighted issues with regards to the extent of knowledge acquisition on food safety and hygiene by migrant food handlers. Therefore, this warrants improvements not only in the better delivery methods of training modules but also tight enforcement of attendance at the programs by the respective authorities.


Three key factors were identified linked to the poor knowledge acquisition included poor participation in food training programs, low educational level and language barriers. This findings calls for better improvements in food training programs with a view to improve knowledge acquisition to develop good practice. Several recommendations may include compulsory basic Malay or English language classes prior to attendance at food training programs to ensure better under-standing of the content of food training modules with emphasis on symptoms of foodborne illnesses and foodborne pathogens. Moreover, regular health inspections of food handlers and closure of food premises that fail to comply should be enforced by the regulatory bodies if the health and safety guidelines are not fully adhered.

Dr Pei Yee Woh
Chinese University of Hong Kong

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Evaluation of basic knowledge on food safety and food handling practices amongst migrant food handlers in Peninsular Malaysia, Food Control, December 2016, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2016.05.033.
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