Street vendors in the city of Bloemfontein were investigated in order to assess the microbiological quality of the food being sold as well as the level of hygiene conditions under which these food stalls operate. The food samples which were collected included beef, chicken and gravy, while surface samples were taken from the food preparation tables and the hands of the vendors. A structured questionnaire and checklist were used in interviews to determine the status of the vending sites and associated food handling practices. The overall microbiological quality of the foods served by the street vendors was found to be within acceptable safety limits, although the presence of specific microorganisms such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella and yeasts is indicative of a degree of ignorance on the part of the food handlers towards proper hygienic practices.
The microbial composition of the air in various areas of a high-throughput chicken-slaughtering facility was investigated. Over a 4-mo period, 6 processing areas were sampled, and the influence of environmental factors was monitored. The highest counts of microorganisms were recorded in the initial stages of processing, comprising the receiving-killing and defeathering areas, whereas counts decreased toward the evisceration, air-chilling, packaging, and dispatch areas. Maximum microbial counts were as follows: coliforms, 4.9 x 10(3) cfu/m(3); Escherichia coli 3.4 x 10(3) cfu/m(3); Bacillus cereus, 5.0 x 10(4) cfu/m(3); Staphylococcus aureus, 1.6 x 10(4) cfu/m(3); Pseudomonas aeruginosa, 7.0 x 10(4) cfu/m(3); presumptive Salmonella spp., 1.5 x 10(4) cfu/m(3); Listeria monocytogenes, 1.6 x 10(4) cfu/m(3); and fungi, 1.4 x 10(4) cfu/m(3). Higher counts of airborne microorganisms found in the receiving-killing and defeathering areas indicate the importance of controlling microbial levels before processing to prevent the spread of organisms downstream. This should limit the risk of carrying over contaminants from areas known to generate high counts to areas where the final food product is exposed to air and surface contamination.
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