Revista Española de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1135-5727
CAMPOS DIAZ, Julia; RODRIGUEZ ALVAREZ, Cristobalina; SIERRA LOPEZ, Antonio and ARIAS RODRIGUEZ, Ángeles. Microbiological Study of the Meals Served in School Lunchrooms on the Island of Tenerife, Spain. Rev. Esp. Salud Publica [online]. 2003, vol.77, n.6, pp. 749-760. ISSN 1135-5727. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1135-57272003000600008.
Background: School lunchrooms and catered meals are of major importance from the Public Health standpoint. This study is aimed at evaluating the microbiological quality of the meals served in school lunchrooms for the purpose of ascertaining whether it is suitable or, to the contrary, the intake thereof may involve a serious health problem for this high-risk group. Methods: A transversal descriptive epidemiological study. An analysis was conducted of a total of 898 food samples collected from the lunchrooms at 101 schools in Tenerife, selected by a stratified random probabilistic sampling procedure, fifty-eight of which were prepared at the school proper (direct management) and 43 involving meals served by a catering firm (prepared under contract). Results: No disease-causing Salmonella spp. or Listeria monocytogenes bacteria were isolated from any of the samples. A total 79% of the foods studies showed counts for this parameter, (91%) in salads and (85%) in main courses. A total 15% of the samples analyzed tested positive for total Enterobacteriaceae. Escherichia coli was isolated in 24% of the salads, in 4% of the side dishes and in 1% of the main dishes, Staphylococcus aureus having in isolated in three foods. The highest counts were found for the total aerobic mesophyllic microorganisms. A total 8.24% of the samples analyzed exceeded one or more of the limits stipulated for the parameters studies. Conclusions: The microbiological quality of the meals served in these school lunchrooms is acceptable, although due to a certain percentage of the foods having exceeded the stipulated limits for microorganisms indicative of and revealing a lack of hygiene, and schoolchildren being a high-risk group, a revision of the surveillance related to critical checkpoints will be necessary.
Keywords : School canteen; Food hygiene; School health services; Public health.