Microbial Contamination of an Indigenous Leafy Vegetable, Roselle (Hibiscus Sabdariffa L.) and Associated Risk Factors on Farm and Market Samples in the Kasena- Nankana East Municipality of the Upper East Region

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The microbial quality of irrigation water sources and Roselle vegetable leaves produced and sold in the Kasena-Nankana East Municipality of the Upper East Region of Ghana were evaluated by measuring the levels of total and faecal coliforms, Enterococci and Escherichia coli in the different irrigation water sources and on the Roselle leaves (fresh and dry) using standard microbiological methods. The results show that microbial numbers in the dam water used as irrigation water in the cultivation of Roselle leaves compared to the other water sources was highest in total coliforms (1.54 x 108cfu), faecal coliforms (2.87 x 106cfu), Enterococci (253cfu) and E. coli (6.85 x 105cfu). General mean microbial indicator numbers followed in a descending order in well 3, canal, well 2 and well 1 being the lowest. Generally, microbial numbers in the irrigation water sources from the canal, well 1, well 2 and well 3 were not significantly different from each other (P>0.05). Similarly, microbial indicator numbers on the Roselle leaves were highest on that produced with dam water followed by well 2 canal, well 3 and well1. Microbial numbers on freshly harvested Roselle leave samples were not significantly different from that of the dry leaves sold on the market. The microbial quality of the irrigation water and Roselle leaves produced and sold were higher than that of WHO and ICMSF standards. Educating the public on microbial contamination and food safety will help reduce health risk associated with the consumption of such vegetables.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the Award of the Master Of Science Degree in Environmental Science, June-2012