Effect of local authorities’ field monitoring visits on awareness of regulation and hygiene practices among street food vendors: Th e case of two district capitals in Ghana
Background: Street food vending is increasingly popular in Ghana though some studies show their association with high risk of infection. Most studies focus on microbial risks instead of the linkage between officials’ field visits and vendors’ awareness of the regulation and hygienic practices. This paper therefore assesses the association between perceived rate of authorities’ field visits and vendors’ awareness of regulation and hygiene practices. Methods: A total of 125 street food vendors from two district capitals, Mankranso (50) and Ejura (75), in the Ashanti region of Ghana, were sampled for interview around April-May 2013. Furthermore, a principal environmental health officer from each town was interviewed concerning food vending permit acquisition processes and field monitoring visits. Results: The key informants were confident that the existing processes and mechanisms could ensure compliance with food vending regulations and standards among street food vendors. Most vendors from Mankranso (78%, 39/50) reported that officials’ field visits were frequent unlike few vendors from Ejura (17%, 13/75). A good number of food vendors (80%, N = 125, P = 0.000) claimed they have permits but few (19%, N = 125, P = 0.036) could prove their claims. Meanwhile, almost all vendors (94%, N = 125, P = 0.014) claimed they knew their trade is regulated by law. However, a good number of vendors could not list two or more regulatory requirements and that consequently affected the overall regulatory consciousness levels to 74% (Mankranso) and 81% (Ejura) below average. Significant association and correlation was established between personal hygiene practice and reported field visits at Ejura (P = 0.028; R = 0.343 with P = 0.004) but not at Mankranso (P = 0.395; R = 0.175 with P > 0.05). The detailed results of all hygiene practices and awareness of food vending regulations are discussed. Conclusion: Street food vendors’ perception about officials’ visits do not necessarily influence hygiene practices since enforcement during visits could be weak or not fully embedded.