Food and its preparation conditions in hotels in Accra, Ghana: A concern for food safety
Although a lot of work has been done on the safety of street foods in most developing countries, not much has been done with regards to the hotel industry. A pilot study to investigate food and its preparation conditions in ten selected hotels in Accra, the capital of Ghana with respect to food safety was therefore initiated in 2005/2006. A total of 184 samples; 105 swabs of kitchen working surfaces, cutlery and plates; 29, 30, and 20 samples of food, water and fruit juice respectively were taken for microbial analysis from ten highly patronized hotels between December 2005 and June 2006. Standard microbiological methods were used for isolation, enumeration, and identification of bacteria. Thirty Seven (37) of the swab samples showed the presence of coliforms while Escherichia coli was absent in all the 105 samples. The total count of aerobic bacteria was high in the swabs from the working surfaces and cutting boards (> 103 cfu/ml). All the food samples tested negative for Salmonella, Staphylococcus and E. coli. Coliforms and E. coli were not detected in any of the 30 water samples tested, Ten of the fruit juice samples tested positive for coliforms although E. coli was absent in all the 20 samples. Most of the swabs that registered the presence of coliforms were from chopping boards, pastry and working tables suggesting that the method of cleaning these surfaces should be improved. The microbial quality of all the food samples tested was satisfactory with aerobic colony counts of less than 104 cfu/g and no pathogens detected in 25g of food sample, which is the standard for ready to eat foods. The water samples also met the satisfactory criteria of no coliforms detected in 100mls of water. No pathogens were detected in the fruit juice samples, but with the exception of ginger juice, all were contaminated with coliforms which suggests that, stringent measures be applied in the preparation and handling of these juices. As a result of this study staff and management of these hotels are now implementing Good Hygienic Practices (GHP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).
Key words: Food, Coliforms, Salmonella, Staphylococcus