Microbiology of polyethylene-packaged sliced watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) sold by street vendors in Nigeria


E. Nwachukwu*, C. F. Ezeama and B. N. Ezeanya.

Ten packaged, freshly sliced watermelon were collected from different street vendors to determine their microbiological quality. Eight different microbial isolates were obtained from the sliced watermelon samples, namely Escherichia coli, Klebsiella aerogenes, Proteus mirabilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Lactobacillus spp., Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Rhizopus stolonifer and Mucor spp. The effects of high density polyethylene (HDP) and low density polyethylene (LDP) packaging bags on the microbiological quality of freshly sliced watermelon, stored at ambient temperature were also determined. After 10 days of storage, the total viable counts increased from 0.6 x 103 cfu/g to 5.3 x 103cfu/g and to 5.5 x 103 cfu/g in the HDP- and LDP-packaged watermelon samples, respectively. The total fungal counts increased from 0.5 x 103cfu/g to 6.7 x 103cfu/g and to 7.2 x 103cfu/g in the HDP- and LDP-packaged watermelon samples, respectively. Proper sanitation practice and use of good quality packaging materials are recommended in order to avoid risks associated with the consumption of sliced food produce.

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