Microbial quality of fresh beef sold in the Birim North District of the Eastern Region of Ghana

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Beef contributes significantly to the daily protein intake of many Ghanaians but can be a source of foodborne illnesses especially under the conditions in which animals are handled, slaughtered, transported and sold on Ghanaian markets. This study assessed the microbiological quality of beef sold in the Birim North District in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Twenty-four (24) fresh beef samples from eight (8) butchers were aseptically collected and analyzed for microbial load using standard microbiological procedures. The samples were subjected to bacteriological analysis such as total viable count (TVC), total Staphylococcus count (TSC), total Salmonella count (TSC) and total Escherichia coli count (TEC). The mean Total Viable Count in colony forming units per gram (cfu/g) ranged between 2.37x105 and 4.23x105. The mean log10 values of total viable count were 5.37, 5.59, 5.58, 5.48, 5.61, 5.62, 5.55 and 5.58 for New Abirem market (East), New Abirem market (West), Noyem Lorry Station, Noyem market, Pankese, Afosu, Akoase and Nkwateng respectively. There was no significant difference between the mean TVC, TSC and TEC counts of all the meat shops (P<0.05). The beef samples were contaminated with Staphylococcus spp, Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. Prevalence of Salmonella spp. in retail beef in the study markets was found to be low (6 %) compared to Staphylococcus spp and Escherichia coli which recorded 47% each. Hygienic practices of the butchers were also assessed using observation and checklist on items and facilities required for good hygienic practices in the processing, handling and transport of raw meat by butchers. There was poor hygienic standard of meat processing such as dressing of carcasses on filthy floors, use of unsterilized knives and slaughtering equipment in the cutting and processing of meat and inappropriate means of transporting carcasses to sale points. Unhygienic practices and poor handling of beef by butchers in the study area were the major causes of contamination of beef. The presence of Salmonella species, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus species organisms are of special concern because these could potentially cause food borne intoxication. Therefore, it is important that appropriate hygienic practices are instituted to reduce the potential risk of foodborne pathogens in the study area.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements Master of Science degree in Environmental Science.