Oranusi US* and Braide W
A microbiological safety evaluation was carried out for ready-to-eat foods sold along Onitsha-Owerri highway, South-East Nigeria. Samples were collected from six different check points with intensive business activities - Oba, Okija, Ihiala, Mgbidi, Awomama and Ogbaku. Four hundred and ninety two samples comprising of fourteen different foods were analyzed for total aerobic plate count, coliform, fungi and for common food borne pathogens. The total aerobic plate count was 1.7x103- 7.1x109 cfu/g. Coliform count range from 2.3x101-3.8x107 cfu/g. Fungal count range from 1.0x101- 1.8x106 cfu/g. Approximately3.9% of the samples analyzed were highly contaminated with total aerobic bacterial count of > 106 cfu/g. There were no difference in the levels of contamination of samples from the six sampling point. Coliforms, Salmonella spp, S. aureus, E. coli, B. cereus, Shigella spp, Enterococci, A. niger and Pseudomonas were isolated. Contamination above 106 cfu/g food and the presence of potential food borne pathogens could be risky. Consumer’s awareness on the dangers of consuming contaminated foods, education of food vendors on food hygiene and application of hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) is imperative.
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