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This study assessed food and meat sanitation in different food service establishment in five Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Abia State. The study adopted a cross-sectional design. The LGAs selected were allocated different percentage of questionnaire samples based on the population such as Aba North (26.0%), Aba South (16.2%), Osisioma (22.4%), Ugwunagbo (20.5%) and Obingwa (14.9%). Structured questionnaire based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Food Safety Checklist administered by trained interviewers was used as instrument for this cross sectional study. Meat samples were collected from meat handlers using swab method. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 22 and Microsoft Excel (2010) were used for the statistical analyses while Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was the inferential statistic. The results of the study showed a statistically significant difference in the scores of the food handlers on the HACCP-based SOPs Checklist which were low by international standards (mean = 37.47±2.51%): Aba South LGA had the highest score (37.98±1.17%), followed by Ugwunagbo (37.97±1.09%), Aba North (37.61±2.25%),Obingwa (37.00±2.30%), and Osisioma (36.80±3.50%), F(4, 549) = 5.140, p = 0.000.There was also a statistically significant variability in the scores of food handlers in the different food service establishments: Food vendors had the highest score (37.72±1.96%), followed by abattoir workers (37.63±2.38%), Dry food (37.48±2.50), and Fast food (36.53±3.77), F(3, 549) = 4.004, p = 0.008. To authenticate the low scores of the food handlers on the HACCP-based SOPs Checklist, the mean bacterial load for meat in the studied LGAs were 17.14 X 104and1.67 X 104. This is far higher than the limit allowed by the Microbiological Criteria of the Codex Alimentarius Commission of World Health Organization and Food and Agricultural Organization (WHO/FAO) of the United Nations which is 1.00 X 104 or lower. In conclusion, the food hygiene and sanitation are still very much below the internationally recommended standard, providing fertile atmosphere for food borne diseases and outbreaks to thrive in Abia State. The negative impact of these on the health and domestic economy and gross domestic product of Nigeria in this economic depression can prove disastrous. One of the recommendations was that urgent and concerted action should be taken by the government, organizations and individuals to embark on risk assessment of the microbes found in meat and other food substances.
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