Microbiological Safety of Ready-to-eat Foods Sold in Primary Schools in Abeokuta, South-West Nigeria
A study was conducted to assess the microbial safety of ready-to-eat (RTE) foods sold in private and public primary schools in Abeokuta, South-western Nigeria. One hundred and sixty RTE food samples were collected from forty food vendors in thirty primary schools and analysed microbiologically. Socio-economic status and their knowledge of food safety were assessed using the structured questionnaires. Total bacterial counts, total coliform counts and total fungal counts of RTE foods in public primary schools ranged from 6.27 log10cfu/g to 6.47 log10cfu/g, 6.00 log10cfu/g to 6.28 log10cfu/g and 5.85 log10cfu/g to 6.16 log10cfu/g respectively while those of private primary schools ranged from 6.30 log10cfu/g to 7.47 log10cfu/g, 6.15 log10cfu/g to 6.54 log10cfu/g and 5.60 log10cfu/g to 6.70 log10cfu/g respectively. Bacteria isolated from these samples were Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Proteus spp, Enterobacter aerogenes, Shigella dysenteriae and Escherichia coli while the fungal isolates include
Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus fumigatus, Rhizopus spp, Penicillium viridicatum, Mucor spp and Fusarium spp. RTE foods sold in both private and public primary schools were found to be highly contaminated. Inappropriate storage conditions, inadequate knowledge of food safety, attitudes and practices of the food vendors are the factors that may allow the food contamination. These findings demonstrate that ready-to-eat foods vended in public and private primary schools in Abeokuta, South-western Nigeria constitute an hazard to the pupils’ health. Provision of health education to the vendors and enforcing implementation of appropriate hygienic practices would improve food quality.
Keywords · Ready-to-eat foods · Microbial safety · Primary schools
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