Vol 70, No 1 (2019)
Original article
Published online: 2019-03-28

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Food safety on board tankers. Results of analysis from ‘Healthy Ship’ project

Stefania Scuri1, Fabio Petrelli1, Iolanda Grappasonni1, Marzio Di Canio2, Andrea Saturnino2, Fabio Sibilio2, Francesco Amenta12
Pubmed: 30931521
IMH 2019;70(1):68-75.


Background: Microbiological monitoring of surfaces used for food preparation, as required by the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan, is important in risky conditions as those observed in the kitchens of ships. Limits to introduce a classification of risk levels and methods to adopt in conditions as those occurring in tankers have not been investigated. This paper presents the results of the “Healthy Ship” project on HACCP monitoring of surfaces used in food preparation on Italian flag tankers. 

Materials and methods: Microbiological monitoring was carried out on 19 tankers between 2013 and 2017. Food handlers were also trained on board ship according to HACCP standards. Contact plates (ISO 18593:2004 compliant) were used to determine the colonies and bacterial charge according to the Wirtanen and Salo’s method. 

Results: A total of 1074 samples, 108 before the first course, 168 after the first course, 390 during the period of refresher (2015–2016), and 408 after the refresher training, were obtained from the three main kitchen surfaces: the worktop, cutting board, and kitchen sink. A good level of hygiene was observed in 56.9% of all samples, 0.1% were classified as adequate, and the remaining 43% as poor. The highest contamination was observed on the cutting board and kitchen sink and involved the total aerobic count. The only surface with inadequate levels of hygiene was the worktop. A reduction of contaminated samples was noted after training. 

Conclusions: Our results suggest that continuous training should be provided for personnel responsible for handling foodstuffs on board ships. 

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