What is it about?

In Malaysia, the incidence of food- and waterborne diseases (e.g., typhoid, cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and food poisoning) is approximately 60.28 cases per 100,000 individuals, with typhoid fever being the most prevalent and the majority of the other cases classified as food poisoning. Asymptomatic Salmonella carriers who work as food handlers pose food safety and public health risks, particularly during food preparation, and this has serious implications for the disease burden in society. Therefore, we conducted a study to determine the number of Salmonella carriers in a migrant cohort in several food establishments in three major cities in Peninsular Malaysia. We chose this group because the high demand for workers in the local food establishments and the ample supply of migrant workers, along with most local employers favoring hiring cheap migrant workers, have resulted in the increase in the employment of migrant workers in the service industry from 6.6% in 2000 to 11.9% in 2013.

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Why is it important?

The present study reveals there were four Salmonella serotypes found in the migrant food handlers, with an indication of possible transmission to other food handlers, in addition to posing a public health risk through food contamination. This result can possibly be attributed to the workers’ poor knowledge of food safety and average knowledge of food handling practices linked to three important factors: poor participation in food training programs, low educational level, and language barriers. The detection of NTS carriers among migrant food handlers, despite the low prevalence, calls for the relevant health authorities to improve their protocols, including stool screening as part of mandatory preemployment tests and routine health checks. These are currently lacking, as are periodic assessments of all food handlers regarding food safety knowledge and food handling practices


Our results indicate a need for authorities to enhance food safety awareness in the migrant workers and to reevaluate current health screening methods to include preventive measure such as mandatory stool screening as part of the preemployment and routine health examinations

Dr Pei Yee Woh
Chinese University of Hong Kong

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Characterization of Nontyphoidal Salmonella Isolates from Asymptomatic Migrant Food Handlers in Peninsular Malaysia, Journal of Food Protection, July 2017, International Association for Food Protection,
DOI: 10.4315/0362-028x.jfp-16-342.
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