Consumer knowledge and practices to pork safety in two Taenia solium cysticercosis endemic districts in Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

Affiliation

Department of Environmental Health, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa. [Email]

Abstract

BACKGROUND : Globally, Taenia solium can cause cysticercosis in humans (including neurocysticercosis) and in pigs through ingestion of eggs and taeniasis in humans through ingestion of raw/undercooked pork contaminated with mature cysts. It is now recognised globally as one of the most prevalent food-borne parasitic diseases. The majority of cases have been reported in developing countries where consumption of food produced under unhygienic conditions is prevalent, exacerbated by lack of food safety education. The aim of this study was to determine the knowledge and practices of consumers towards pork safety in two districts of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, where T. solium cysticercosis is endemic in pigs and humans.
METHODS : Three-hundred-and-sixty-one (361) participants were conveniently interviewed on consumer knowledge (harmfulness of T. solium cysticercosis, ability to identify cysts, trustworthiness of registered butcheries and legal requirements) and practices (storage of pork and method(s) of cooking pork safely) through a structured questionnaire. Chi-square for association of variables was used to compare differences in the districts.
RESULTS : Overall, 73.1% of the study group from both districts agreed that pork forms an important part of their diet. Consumers (54.2%: 189/349) agreed that pork infected with T. solium cysts could be harmful, and 57.3% (188/328) indicated their inability to identify T. solium cysts in pork when slaughtered at home. Although 69.5% (234/352) trusted pork bought from butcheries, only 52.2% (187/358) were aware that butcheries must present a registration certificate in order to operate. This coincides with the fact that very few (< 10%) were aware of the legal requirements in terms of disease control, slaughter and food preparation. Most consumers (88.7%: 268/302) kept pork in the fridge and only 11.3% (34/302) kept it in a freezer (p = 0.02). Although not significantly different between the districts (p = 0.15), consumers in Alfred Nzo (71.4%: 152/213) and OR Tambo (61.2%: 74/12) mostly cooked pork as a stew, followed by braai/barbeque and frying or baking. This was in line with the fact that consumers in Alfred Nzo (79%: 147/186) and OR Tambo (80.8%: 120) preferred well-cooked pork; the main reason for this was the belief that cooking kills germs (43.6%: 121/277) followed by rendering the meat tasty (26.4%: 73/277).
CONCLUSIONS : Consumers surveyed in the two districts were somewhat aware that T. solium cysticercosis could be harmful, although some were not able to identify T. solium cysts in pork. They also lacked sufficient knowledge regarding butchery certification and other legal requirements related to disease control, slaughter and food preparation. Practices related to cooking have the potential to promote the transmission of human taeniasis and the fact that most respondents preferred stewed pork could be a positive sign, as the cysts are destroyed during the cooking process. Results from this study are useful for the development of a control and prevention strategy targeted towards consumers, and the creation of awareness of food safety, with special emphasis on T, solium cysticercosis.

Keywords

Consumer knowledge and practices,Food/meat safety,Taenia solium cysticercosis,

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