Farmworkers are at potential risk from food and waterborne illnesses because of the condition of cooking and eating facilities available to them, according to a new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist are the first to evaluate cooking and eating facilities in migrant farmworker camps to compare against established housing regulations. They found that the facilities fail to comply with regulations in a substantial number of camps. The study, which appears online today in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health, is part of an ongoing program of community-based participatory research at Wake Forest Baptist in conjunction with the N.C. Farmworkers Project, Student Action with Farmworkers and other clinics and organizations service state farmworkers.
"The structural, sanitation and pest infestation problems documented in these kitchens are interrelated," said the study's lead author Sara A. Quandt, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest Baptist.
The researchers investigated the cooking and eating facilities and collected data from 182 migrant farmworker camps in eastern North Carolina during the 2010 agricultural season. Observations were compared with 15 kitchen-related housing regulations specified by federal and state housing standards. They found violations of eight regulations in at least 10 percent of the camps across a broad spectrum - structure, water supply, kitchen equipment, sanitation and pest infestation.