South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Food hygiene and sanitation in infants and young children: A paediatric food-based dietary guideline

LT Bourne, N Pilime, A Behr


This paper has three related aims. Firstly, it aims to profile the current food hygiene and safety needs of children under the age of five in South Africa. Secondly, to reflect the importance of domestic hygiene, access to water and sanitation in reducing the transmission of gastrointestinal pathogens while feeding infants and young children. And, thirdly, to highlight the need for collaboration between healthcare professionals and the local authorities who provide basic services. Food safety and hygiene needs for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) have been mainstreamed in the various sections addressed in this paper that underpin the  importance of food safety and hygiene in immune-compromised  individuals. The following topics have been covered: water and sanitation, food safety and hygiene, hand washing and personal hygiene, hygiene and sanitation for PLWHA, relevant primary healthcare strategies (e.g. oral rehydration solutions), rotavirus immunisation, and vitamin A and zinc supplementation. Additionally, the paper discusses relevant interventions to prevent diarrhoeal disease. This review utilises sourced references in both global and local evidence-based studies by conducting repeated literature searches via PubMed, the Cochrane Collaboration, Google Scholar, EBSCO Information Services and United Nations’ agency  documents, as well as the “grey” literature (theses, research reports and other nonindexed material). The main keywords “hygiene”, “sanitation”, “infants” and “young children” were used, in addition to other keywords and key phrases referred to in the text. On the basis of the literature review, it is proposed that the following message is tested for inclusion in the food-based dietary guidelines for infants and young children: “Hands should be washed with clean water and soap before preparing, feeding or eating, and after going to the toilet”.

AJOL African Journals Online