Vol 69, No 4 (2018)
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Published online: 2018-12-20

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Food hygiene knowledge and awareness among undergraduate maritime students

Taha Talip Türkistanlı1, Coşkan Sevgili1
Pubmed: 30589067
IMH 2018;69(4):270-277.


Background: Reducing the crew size of the galley department on merchant vessels causes heavy workload
for the remaining food handlers on board. This situation in return, could trigger risky behaviours and create
an unsanitary environment which can facilitate the spread of various gastrointestinal disorders on ships.
In such cases, ensuring and supervising food hygiene and food safety on board is up to maritime captains
and officers. In addition to that, each crew member on board should maintain a general awareness of
food hygiene to prevent any outbreaks. However, these personnel’s knowledge and awareness to prevent
such risky behaviours and cases are questionable. In this context, this study aims to examine food hygiene
knowledge as well as awareness among maritime students. A survey has been conducted to discover the
risky behaviours seen on merchant vessels regarding food hygiene. Specified training needs to achieve
food safety culture on merchant vessels are discussed.
Materials and methods: The study was conducted by proposing an anonymous questionnaire to undergraduate
students of maritime faculties in Turkey. The questionnaire form was adapted from the previous
works of Grappasonni et al., Walker et al. and Alpuguz et al. This questionnaire examines the basic attitudes
towards food hygiene and risky behaviours among seafarers. Convenience sampling technique was
adopted, and 251 Turkish participants have joined the study.
Results: Foodborne disease knowledge among maritime students was determined to be low especially
for disease recognition. They have failed to identify characteristics and symptoms of food borne diseases.
There were also serious misconceptions of which behaviours are considered risky regarding food hygiene.
A knowledge gap was observed in cross-contamination, food temperature control, and food storage condition
subjects. Some of these, such as high-risk foods and adequate storage of foods should be common
knowledge for all personnel on board. It is also revealed that food hygiene awareness of many maritime
students was limited to environmental hygiene and food handlers’ hygiene.
Conclusions: Food hygiene appears to be an underrated problem on board, yet it is one of the major health
problems in the maritime industry threatening the seafarers. Promoting food safety culture and food hygiene
knowledge in maritime students could be a key factor to tackle this problem. Development of standardised
health and disease training for seafarers should be considered.

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