THE PREVALENCE OF FOODBORNE PATHOGENS RECOVERED FROM READY-TO-EAT FOOD FROM RESTAURANTS IN OKADA, EDO STATE, NIGERIA
This study assessed the microbiological quality of various ready-to-eat cooked food and their contact surfaces in selected restaurants in the university town of Okada, Edo state, Nigeria. Microbial analysis was carried out on the samples obtained from six restaurants. The restaurants sampled were the ones with the highest patronage within the study area. The results obtained indicated that most of the ready-to-eat food did not meet the required quality standards, and therefore, posed potential risks of foodborne infections to consumers. Exposure assessment was used to evaluate the level of hygiene practices in the selected restaurants with results indicating poor hygiene practice. The organisms isolated from the ready- to-eat cooked foods in the restaurants and their prevalence were, Bacillus species (12.50%), Enterobacter species (50.00%), Streptococcus species (12.50%), Micrococcus species (12.50%) and Staphylococcus aureus (12.50%), from the food contact surfaces (Hands of ready-to-eat food servers) were, Enterobacter species (36.36%), Streptococcus (9.09%), Micrococcus (9.09%) Staphylococcus (45.46%) and ready-to-use serving plates (Streptococcus (33.33%) and Enterobacter sp. (50%). Haemolysis test was employed as a phenotypic marker of pathogenicity for Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus sp. The prevalence of the pathogenic strains isolated from the ready-to-eat food were Streptococcus sp. (9.09%) and Staphylococcus sp. (45.46%) and that of the one isolated from the serving plate was Streptococcus sp. (33.33%).