Contact: Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Benin.
Plantain (Musa paradisiaca) is an important staple crop that contributes to the subsistence economies in Africa. It is excellent for weight control, slow energy release and has high nutritional value (rich in iron, potassium, vitamin A and ascorbic acid) (Kumar et al., 2012). Unripe plantain is traditionally processed into flour in Nigeria and in other West and Central African countries. The preparation methods consist of peeling the fruits with the hands, then cutting the pulp into small pieces then air drying them for few days. The dried pulp is then ground in a wooden mortar or a corn grinder. The flour produced is mixed with boiling water to prepare an elastic pastry (‘amala’) which is eaten with various sauces (Ohenhen et al., 2006). Production of most traditional foods is often associated with unhygienic practices. Plantain flour sold in markets is usually exposed and very often manipulated, coming in direct contact with the hands of customers before purchase (Duff et al., 2003). Generally, it has been estimated that six pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogens, Campylobacter jejuni, Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella spp. and Staphylococcus aureus account for approximately 7 million cases of food borne illnesses (Talaro, 1996). This study was aimed at assessing the bacteriological and physicochemical quality of plantain flour sold in open markets in Benin City
Keywords: Open market, plantain flour, bacterial count, physicochemical quality.