Fish constitutes an important source of protein intake in many countries. It is a major source of animal protein and an essential food item in the diet of Nigerians because it is relatively cheaper than meat and forms a much cherished delicacy that cuts across socio-economic, age, religious and educational barriers (Kumolu-Johnson and Ndimele, 2011; Adebayo-Tayo et al., 2008). Fish is a perishable commodity that deteriorates soon after harvest and its spoilage is as a result of both enzymatic and bacterial breakdown of the flesh, especially in the tropics where temperature is high (Aberounmand, 2010). Therefore, harvested fish needs immediate preparation. It can be preserved by freezing, salting, sun-drying, oven-drying, fermentation and smoking (Cluscas and Ward, 1996). The smoking of fish dates back to civilization. It is noted that apart from giving the product desirable taste and odour, it provides a longer shelf life through its antibacterial and oxidative effects, lowering pH, imparting coloration as well as accelerating the drying process and acting as antagonist to spoilage agents (Eyo, 2011 ; Abolagba and Melle, 2008). Fish are susceptible to a wide variety of potentially pathogenic bacteria (Schmidt et al., 2001). This study was aimed at assessing the bacteriological and physicochemical quality of crayfish sold in open markets in Benin City.
Keywords: open market, crayfish, bacterial count, physicochemical quality