|BEDANE, TESFAYE - Addis Ababa University|
|GUTEMA, FANTA - Addis Ababa University|
Submitted to: Scientific Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/28/2022
Publication Date: 8/17/2022
Citation: Bedane, T., Agga, G.E., Gutema, F.D. 2022. Hygienic assessment of fish handling practices along production and supply chain and its public health implications in Central Oromia, Ethiopia. Scientific Reports. 12:13910. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-17671-5.
Interpretive Summary: Fishborne infections are major causes of illness and death worldwide. Fish contamination can occur due to unhygienic handling practices during production, distribution, and preparation. Human infections occur through consumption of raw or undercooked fish, and while handling and processing fish. Assessing the hygienic status of fish handling practices and consumption preferences is important to identify critical control points and to develop mitigation strategies to ensure fish safety. We surveyed points of fish production and processing facilities at the lakes, fishermen, retailers, restaurants, and consumers. Lakes were freely accessible to animals and were prone to chemical and microbial contaminants. Fish were being handled and processed under unhygienic standards. Vehicles for fish transportation were not equipped with cold facilities in most of the retailers and at all the restaurants. On the positive side we observed the use of refrigerators for storage in all retailers and majority of the restaurants. More than three-fourths of the consumers preferred consuming raw fish and lacked basic knowledge about fishborne diseases. The unhygienic handling practices together with the widespread raw fish consumption pose risk for the consumers. Public education, and improvements in the hygienic practices are important measures to ensure fish safety.
Technical Abstract: Fishborne diseases are among the major causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Contamination of the aquatic ecosystem and unhygienic han-dling practices during production and along the fish supply chain can lead to contaminated fish. Consumption of raw or under cooked fish and fish products is a major source of fishborne infections in humans. Despite reports of fishborne infections in Ethiopia, information regarding the hygienic status of fish handling practices is limited. We assessed fish hygienic handling practices at production sites and along the fish supply chain in three towns in east Shewa zone of Oromia. Data were collected using a semi-structured questionnaire interviews and personal observations. Purposively selected respondents comprising 50 fishermen, 10 retailers, 20 food establishments serving fish, and 120 consumers were participated in the study. We observed that the lakes were accessible to animals and exposed to chemical and mi-crobial contaminations through rainwater run-off. Fish were processed under unhygienic practices like washing of filleted fish with lake water, indiscriminate processing at unhygienic landing sites, use of a single knife for processing all fish with infrequent washing and no disinfection in between. Majority (70%; n=10) of the retailers and all the food establishments transported fish in vehicles with no cold chain facilities. Good hygienic practices we observed were the use of refrigerators for storage in all retailers and 70% (n=20) of the food establishments; 30% of retailers used vehicles with a cold chain facility for the transportation of fish. Over three-fourths (77 %; n= 120) of the consumers prefer consuming raw fish; 80% of them lack the knowledge of fishborne diseases. In conclusion, the unhygienic handling practices coupled with the widespread raw fish consumption of consumers raise a significant public health risk for fishborne diseases. Mitigation measures such as public education, infrastructure development, and the use of cold chain are critically required to ensure fish safety.