Microbial and preservative safety of fresh and processed fruit salads, fruit soft drinks and jam in Kenya
its provide vitamins A and C which are anti-oxidants and other
phytochemicals that form a healthy diet and lower the risk of cancer and chronic heart diseases. Kenya’s horticulture production provides 3.82 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables to the local market and 0.13 million tonnes to export market. Thirty percent is lost annually due to lack of transport and processing. The FAO/WHO Expert consultation has recommended a daily intake of at least 400g of fruit and vegetables
which means at least 200g fruit per capita per day. In Eastern Africa, fruit consumption is less than 50g of fruit per adult per day. Consumer confidence is eroded by poor hygienic conditions in growing, handling or transporting the produce. Processing fruit by drying loses up to 88% of water and yielding a product safe for storage and results in a more intense flavour. Canning involves sterilization. Common preservatives used in fruit processing are benzoic acid and sulphates. The objective of this research was to assess safety of fresh and processed fruit products marketed in Kenya in terms of content of microorganisms, and residual chemical preservatives compared to FAO/WHO Codex standards and Kenya standards. The products were tested according to AOAC Official Methods of Analysis for total plate count, Staphylococcus aureus, yeast and mould, coliforms as well as benzoic acid and sulphurous acid. Results showed that chilled fresh juice had nil coliforms while processed fruit and fruit drinks from supermarkets had nil total plate count and, therefore, met safety requirements. Unrefrigerated fresh fruit salad in street kiosks had coliforms in the range 0.50 x102 to 2.10 x103 cfu per g. All processed fruit products apart from strawberry jam had levels of microorganisms and preservatives below the maximum residue limits. The strawberry jam had sulphurous acid at 133 ppm which is above 100 ppm, the maximum residue limit. The producers and traders of fresh fruit and the processers should implement quality management practices and safety standards in farming, fresh fruit,
processing and storage. This is to ensure safety, enhance consumption of fruits and fruit products for health of consumers and eliminate wastage.
Key words: Fresh fruit, vitamins, spoilage, preservation