Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Microbial diversity and prevalence of foodborne pathogens in cheap and junk foods consumed by primary schoolchildren.

UNLABELLED: Aerobic plate counts (APC), coliforms, Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli and eight foodborne pathogens were tested in 1008 cheap and junk foods, including candies, dried cakes, chewing gum, chocolate, dried and seasoned seafood, ice cream, and sugary foods. APCs were positive for 342 samples (33·9%), and the majority of the counts were 2-3 log CFU g(-1) or ml(-1) (average: 1·10 log CFU g(-1) or ml(-1) ). Most samples (97·3%) contained no coliforms (average: 0·07 log CFU g(-1) or ml(-1) ). Bacillus cereus was detected in 68 samples (average: 0·14 log CFU g(-1) or ml(-1) ). Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes were detected in 6 and 1 samples, respectively, whereas other foodborne pathogens were not isolated. The highest bacterial counts were associated with dried and seasoned seafood products and dried cakes, suggesting that appropriate regulations of these food types should be considered. Cheap and junk foods were produced mainly in developing countries, but there were no significant differences in the bacterial counts among different countries of origin. The presence of foodborne pathogens may pose a risk for children. These results suggest that there is cause for deeper concern about the safety of these foods and that effective countermeasures should be established to improve their microbiological safety.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: Food safety is especially important for children, but only limited information is available about the microbiological quality of cheap and junk foods that are consumed frequently by primary schoolchildren (e.g. dried cakes, candies and chocolates). The present study investigated the microbial quality of cheap and junk foods, and our results indicate that these foods are a potential health risk for children, therefore, deeper concern about the safety of these foods and effective countermeasures should be established to improve their microbiological safety. The present study may contribute to the development of an appropriate child food safety management system.

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