Assessment of Microbial Quality and Heavy Metal Levels of Raw Cattle Hide and Meat Sold At Retail Outlets in Tarkwa, Western Region, Ghana

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The present study seeks to assess the microbial quality of raw beef as well as the concentration of heavy metals in cattle hide at retail outlets in the Tarkwa Municipality. A total of 384 replicated swab samples were taken from beef, knives, wooden boards, weighing scales, shop floor as well as workers hands. Also 24 replicated freshly singed and unsinged cattle hides were aseptically collected. Sampling was done at selected retail outlets in Central Market (Layout) and Karikwanaano Markets. Averagely, 2.55±0.27 (log10 cfu/cm²), 2.06±0.22 (log10 cfu/cm²), and 1.57±0.17 (log10 cfu/cm²) of total viable count (TVC), total coliform count (TCC) and total Staphylococcal Counts (TSC) were recorded respectively on all swab samples from retail outlets. There were significant microbial growth differences across the various retail sale environments. Microbial loads in the fresh swab sample (tvc = 1.36±0.21 (log10 cfu/cm²), tcc = 1.10±0.16 (log10 cfu/cm²), tsc = 0.87±0.13 (log10 cfu/cm²), were significantly lower than delayed swab samples (tvc = 3.74±0.37 (log10 cfu/cm²), tcc = 3.02±0.30 (log10 cfu/cm²), tsc = 2.28±0.24 (log10 cfu/cm²). Comparatively, a significant microbial growth (p < 0.05) was observed on the beef to the environmental equipment. The average pH reading in this study was slightly acidic (6.88±0.78), then peaking acidity in the afternoon. Foodborne pathogens isolated from beef, its processing equipments and the surrounding environment included Staphylococcus spp., Salmonella, Streptococcus spp., Escherichia coli. Enterobacter spp. and Klebsiella spp. 12 cattle hides were singed-treated with scrap tyres (T) while the remaining 12 were firewood processed. The control 24 hides were taken from the un-singed carcasses before the singeing took place. Samples of carcasses hides were analyzed for the concentrations of Fe, Pb, Cu and Zn. The average concentration of all heavy metal contents in hides recorded were lower than the maximum permissible limit except for Lead (Pb). However statistical significance difference between permissible limit (50mg/kg) and observed (23.44±5.70 mg/kg) was recorded only for iron (Fe).The type of processing method (unsinged, firewood-singed and tyre-singed) had a significant effect (p < 0.05) on the levels of heavy metal content recorded in hide. Hide processed with scrap tyre recorded the highest level of heavy metal concentration to fire wood-singed. There was no significance difference (p > 0.05) on the level of heavy metal content of hide among the two retail markets. The microbial load of raw beef from retail outlet in Tarkwa Municipality is high which insinuates its possible role in spoilage in foodborne illness. Therefore there is the need for improvement in the standard of selling meat in Tarkwa Municipality. The hides treated with scrap tyres were unsafe for human consumption. Therefore there should be the enforcement of stringent laws in Ghana to stop local butchers from using scrap tyres as singeing material.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Environmental Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfillment of the award of Master of Science in Environmental Science.