Dr Mpinda Edoaurd Tshipamba from the North-West University (NWU) has published a paper after examining 115 samples of contaminated meat sold in Johannesburg, and its link to food poisoning.
He said the wide range of bacterial species found in street meat samples “indicate that consumers of this meat could be at risk of food poisoning”.
Street meat in Joburg
The samples were purchased from three different areas in the Johannesburg CBD: Noord Taxi Rank, Bree Street and Hancock Street.
Fifteen different bacterial species were detected in the meat samples collected from the above-mentioned sites, “with staphylococcus aureus occurring in all the meat types except for the chicken gizzards”.
Tshipamba’s study also revealed that 91%, 77% and 69% of vendors respectively exposed their meats to dusts and flies, while 94%, 92% and 86% of vendors handled money while serving foods.
“Stagnant water was found at 21.88% and 55.56% of vending locations at MTN taxi-rank [Noord] and Hancock Street, but were absent in vending sites at Bree Street.”
He said the “the overall mean total bacterial and coliform counts in the samples ranged from 4.3-6.03 × 102 and 1.60-1.95 × 102 cfu/ml respectively”.
“Other practices observed at all the sampling points were the habit of not washing of hands after handling waste”.
Tshipamba explained that the safety of the food was affected by several factors, some of which included the quality of the meat, to the way it was handled and the hygiene practices in its preparation.
The wide range of bacterial species found in the meat samples indicated that consumers were at risk of food poisoning and other food-borne infections.
‘Serious public health burden’
Tshipamba said these conditions created “a serious public health burden”.
What should be done to address these issues?
“It is an imperative need for government and public-health sectors to implement food safety policies for food vendors and sanctions for violators in order to reduce the incidence of food borne diseases,” he said.
Tshipa’s study – Evaluation of the effect of hygiene practices and attitudes on the microbial quality of street vended meats sold in Johannesburg, South Africa – can be read in its entirety here.