The study is aimed to evaluate the food safety status of a street vended fruit product locally known as fruit chat. Sample collection was carried out from four groups of vendors which were discriminated based on their mobility, vending practice and storage facility. The extent of prevalence for Enterobacter species, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella species, Salmonella species, Staphylococcus aureus and S. epidermidis was assessed in fruit chat samples. Bacterial isolates were identified through biochemical characterization. The degree of susceptibility of these isolates was evaluated against six different antibiotics that is, amikacin, ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, gentamycin, ceftriaxone and co-trimoxazol using disc diffusion method. Results indicated a higher (105 to 1010 CFU/g) total plate count (TPC) and total coliforms count (TCC) ranged from 104 to 109 CFU /g in samples collected from mobile vendors without covering. Mobility of vendors and, use of no covering, resulted in significant (P≤0.05) contamination. However, fruit chat samples collected from stationary vendors with refrigeration facilities exhibited considerably lower bacterial count. The study clearly indicated that consumption of fruit chats from street vendors can be a potential risk for food borne outbreaks because of their contamination level by pathogenic bacteria. Bacterial species had shown variable susceptibility and resistance patterns in response to different antibiotics used in the study. However, all bacterial species had shown greater sensitivity for amikacin, whereas, bacterial strains appeared to develop resistance against other commonly used antibiotics. The mounting resistance against antibiotics is currently one of the foremost challenges to treat food borne infections. Therefore, both preventative and effective curative measures should be adopted. Firstly, the safety status of street vended food products can be enhanced by improving hygienic conditions during the preparation of food stuff. Secondly, the use of effective antibiotics will be of significant importance to cure food borne infections as well as to avoid growing resistance in pathogenic bacteria.
Key words: Safety status, street vended fruit product, bacterial prevalence, antibiotics susceptibility.
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