|Abstract||This study was carried out to assess hygiene conditions, food handling practices, food safety knowledge of food service providers (FSPs), and the microbial quality of food served in different food service establishments in Doha. Fifty-three FSPs were randomly selected among 200 FSPs. Face-to-face interviews with the food safety managers at each participating FSP were conducted using a survey consisting of 40-questions (demographic data on workers, HACCP training, knowledge on personal hygiene, and safe-food handling practices) in October-December 2015. In addition to survey questionnaire, a checklist was used to determine the implementation of international food safety standards by observing actual practices applied at each FSP. The microbial quality of food samples (n=105) served and swabs collected from food preparation surfaces (n=58) were also assessed using select media (APC, MCA, XLT4, and LSA). The identification of positive samples was carried out using VITEK-2 system.
The survey results indicated that average service years of FSPs was 11, the average age of food safety managers interviewed was 33, most managers (66%) had college degree, and 68% of them were trained on HACCP. It was demonstrated that casual-sit-in and fine-dine-in restaurants are the only FSP types which consistently kept records (100%), followed by fast-food (36%), and catering (14%) FSPs. The microbial analysis indicated that the average APC in food samples collected from all FSPs met the international standards, while the APC counts of swab samples were considered unsatisfactory since the levels were above 106 Log10 CFU/cm2. The highest bacterial count was reported in swab samples (7.26 Log10 CFU/cm2) collected from preparation area in takeaway restaurants. Concerning the target organisms (Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes), among 105 food samples and 58 swab samples collected, 13 samples (8%) exhibited positive results for possible target pathogens. Positive samples were identified as Klebsiella pneumoniae, Klebsiella oxytoca, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Pantoea spp.
Results obtained in this study might help food safety managers in these select FSPs to better understand the need for implementing effective control measures in order to prevent contamination and eventually protect the public health.