Escherichia coli contamination in unpackaged fruit juices
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Unpackaged fruit juices from mango, passion fruit, pineapple, and watermelon are consumed daily as part of meals especially in pre-urban areas. Despite the thirst-quenching benefits, the safety of the locally prepared unpackaged juice remains unknown. The purpose of the present research was to examine the potential health risks posed to consumers of unpackaged fruit juice by assessing E. coli load and sources of contamination. A total of 50 fresh juice samples were collected from five stalls, inoculated on E-coli selective media for microbial analysis and questionnaire was used to generate information on the handling practices to discern potential sources of contamination. The results indicate that E. coli contamination of unpackaged juice was relatively high at an average of 3.479 log CFU/ml above the UNBS reference standard. Although all respondents washed fruits prior to extraction and 80% prepared juice in designated clean places & used refrigerators for storage of fruits and juices, the use of un-boiled water to clean fruits and open facilities during extraction could have predisposed the juice to contamination. Since the E. coli load in all juices was above the recommended levels, there is need to improve the hygienic condition and handling practices to enhance safety of the unpackaged juice for human consumptions.