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A Proposal On Microbiological Analysis Of Packaged Assorted Fruits Sold In Ilorin Metropolis

  1. Introduction

Fruits are an extraordinary dietary source of micronutrients and fiber for humans and are thus vital for health and wellbeing. Almost 90% of vitamin C originates in fruits (Simitu, 2011). Well balanced diets, rich in fruits are especially valuable for their ability to prevent vitamin C and vitamin A deficiencies and are also reported to reduce the risk of several diseases plus their consumption has become a global priority (McCarthy & Matthews, 1994; Simitu, 2011).

 

There is an increasing demand for ready-to-eat fresh-cut fruits, which is causing an expansion of the market for minimally processed products, rising over the last years mainly due to the paucity of time, and increasing demand for low-caloric food products with fresh-like characteristics. The practical advantages and convenience they provide to consumers is undoubtedly favorable because they are easily accessible, convenient and most importantly cheaper than whole fruits. (Simitu, 2011) However, because of the specific forms in which they are prepared, they are highly perishable and are associated with new food safety problems both epidemiologically and microbiologically (Artés, Gómez, & Artés-Hernández, 2007; Eni et al., 2010).

 

In the developing countries, it is considered that the burden of food- borne illness is worse than in the developed countries, as a result of inadequate food safety programs or absence of an organized institutional body for vended street foods (Abeditan, 2011). However, there is little available data, to show the actual magnitude in general, leave alone in relation to fruit salad alone. Many cases of illness go unreported and unrecognized yet these types of illnesses are a significant contributor to the burden of disease in less developed countries. This therefore highlights the need of applying good hygiene practices from farm to fork to prevent contamination and/or bacterial growth, and ensure compliance with appropriate food safety guidelines and regulations (Sherrae & Neela, 2015). Much research work and surveillance of food borne diseases has been done in Nigeria but, the incidences of food borne diseases associated with fruit are not easy to estimate as most of the illnesses are lumped together when recording, as diarrhoeal diseases, which suggest underlying problems in food safety. (Kariuki, 2012; Gizaw et al., 2014).

 

Street food vending is common in the Ilorin, Kwara State, and fruits are sold either by mobile vendors who hawk them around especially when there is traffic or in offices, or by stationary vendors who are set up in various such strategic places such as stalls, market places and public bus stations. These products are primarily offered as convenience items for those individuals who do not wish to be bothered by or have no time for preparation. They are also sold for immediate consumption, especially during lunchtime. Ilorin is a location that is convenient and desirable for most fruit vendors because there is enough foot traffic for the vendors to make sufficient sales, and if they were to sell outside the Ilorin the sales would not be as good (Kamunyori, 2007).

While it is expected that fruit salad sold as street food contribute immensely to the nutritional needs of consumers, it is not easy to ascertain their safety from contaminants especially by microorganisms (Mwangi, 2002; Gitahi., 2012). Experts say fruits are reservoirs of disease causing germs. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of foodborne illnesses linked to fresh fruits (Mc Carthy & Matthews 1994; Madueke et al., 2014).

 

The fresh nature of these products, coupled with the mild handling and processing techniques, and the storage conditions have presented microorganisms with the potential to grow and multiply and in turn increasing chances of foodborne outbreaks associated with consumption of ready to eat foods (Francis, Thomas, & O’beirne, 1999). Pathogens may also invade the interior surfaces of sliced fruit during washing, peeling, trimming, handling and packaging (Abadias et al, 2008).

Vendors for fruit salad just like all food handlers, have the primary responsibility to guarantee that fruits served are hygienic and safe for consumption. But intentional or inadvertent contamination of fruits puts the consumer at the risk of suffering foodborne illnesses (Monica, 2011). It is against this background that the study was carried out to address the various aspects of hygienic practices like preparation skills, handling, storage, place of preparation, storage of leftovers, and also to establish the Microbiological load of these fruit salad.

 

2.     Problem statement

The increase in consumer needs for fresh products with subsequent increase in street vending of fruit salad is increasingly offering challenges to both health of consumers and local authorities as there is no proper control in this informal sector. Poor hygiene practices therefore, coupled with low standards of environmental and personal hygiene, improper handling of food, improper storage occur with street foods raising health concerns such as foodborne illnesses (Kariuki, 2012).

In Ilorin the street food industry plays an important role where it feeds millions of people daily with a wide variety of foods that are relatively cheap and easily accessible. In the markets and bus stations, a wide variety of fruits that offer cheap snacks are sold. Due to increased demand for resources coupled the

unlimited and unregulated growth, there has been a severe strain on city resources such as water, sewage systems, and interference with city plans through congestion and littering. Street food vendors are usually unlicensed blocking vehicle and pedestrian traffic (Muinde & Kuria, 2005; Monica, 2011). This raises concern with respect to their potential for serious food poisoning outbreaks and exposure of the sliced fruits to flies, dust and other disease causing agents.

Few studies have been done in this context and especially in determining the hygiene and safety of minimally processed ready-to-eat fruits in Ilorin which also hosts the CBD.

 

  1. Objectives of the Study
  2. To determine the food hygiene knowledge and hygiene practices of the fruit vendors
  3. To determine the microbiological contamination of packaged assorted fruits in Ilorin?
  4. To determine the sources of microbiological contamination of packaged assorted fruits in Ilorin.
  5. To identify the conditions for preventing contamination of packaged assorted fruits in Ilorin.

 

  1. Significance of study

Fruits are increasingly becoming important dietaries in Nigeria, and are assumed to be safe and healthier for consumption because they are mildly handled. In Kwara, they are found to be sold in many areas where people operate like in the markets, stalls and side-roads. However, the hygienic preparation and Microbiological contamination of these products are not well established.

 

The need for this study arose from lack of information on fruit Microbiological contamination levels, and food hygiene practices. There is also general lack of knowledge about the microbiological status or the precise epidemiological significance of fruit salad, and therefore was necessary to carry out research in order to highlight the health implications of consuming such ready-to-eat fruits, and recommend any necessary interventions that could be adopted by the relevant bodies or authorities in improvement of hygiene of street vended fruits.

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