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Samples of Shea butter were randomly collected from five local markets from four different states in Nigeria. Isolation and identification of microbial contaminants (Bacteria and Fungi) were carried out as well as the analysis of some physical and chemical parameters. Results from this study reveal the presence of five fungal and three bacterial species as contaminants. The isolated fungi include: Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus, Fusarium species, Mucor species and Trichoderma species. Citrobacter freundii, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were the bacteria established in the study. Differences were also noted in the colour, refractive index and the viscosity of the shea butters sampled. A great significant differences was also observed in the peroxide (2.0 – 8.60 meq/kg), saponification (29.21 – 47.48 mgKOH/g), iodine (4.31 – 13.20 I g/100g) and the fatty acid (27.50 – 2 88.83 mgKOH/kg) values respectively. It was deduced from this study that hawked Vitelleria paradoxa (Shea butter) in our local markets are heavily contaminated with microbes (fungi and bacteria) and this may be detrimental to the health of the users especially those with wounds on their skin.
Keywords: Microbial contaminant, shea butter, local market, physicochemical parameters