Food safety and the contract catering companies: food handlers, facilities and HACCP evaluation
The evaluation of implementing the HACCP system in contract catering companies and assessment of the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the food handlers were the main objectives of this study. It was conducted in 20 companies throughout Spain, with visual inspection of facilities and food handler activities, as well as the distribution of a self-administrable questionnaire among the 105 participant catering workers. In addition, samples of surfaces and finished dishes were taken from each kitchen for microbiological evaluation. The results obtained from the questionnaires reflect extensive knowledge and correct behaviors among respondents with a middle- or high-school educational level, stability in the same workplace and positions of greater responsibility. However, the observation of hygiene practices revealed systematic incorrect procedures in 60% of the kitchens. Most observed deviations were related to the lack of HACCP training and information, the temperature of finished dishes, the storage areas and proper cleaning and disinfection. In summary, this study confirms the difficulties inherent in catering companies to effectively implement the HACCP system, such as the lack of well-trained personnel, lack of motivation or adhesion to said system on the part of the workers, and the lack of financial and economic resources to address the deficiencies in the facilities. Specific educational programs and grants are need for an adequate implementation of HACCP in this sector.