Jollof rice is a cooking variation of rice which involves a grain of monocotyledonous plant, Oryza sativa and is the most popular staple food for a large part of the world human population, especially in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the West Indies (Boyce et al. 1996). Rice is the grain with the second highest worldwide production after maize (corn). Since a large portion of maize crops are grown for other purposes different from human consumption, rice is probably the most important grain with regards to human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one fifth of the total calories consumed world wide by humans (Chomavarin et al. 2006). In Africa, rice has been used to improve nutrition quality, food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land care (Chomavarin et al. 2006). It is basically grown as an annual plant, and its cultivation is well suited to countries and regions with low labor cost and high rainfall, as its cultivation is very labor intensive and requires plenty of water.
The nutritional value of jollof rice is provided by its high contents in carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, energy, fat, protein, water, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc (Kaneko et al. 1999). In Nigeria, Jollof rice is the prevalent food in most fast food centers, because of its preparation and the varieties with which it can be served. The patronages of the food vendors within the University of Abuja Main Campus have increased over time due to busy the nature of the students and other people on campus. The majority of people on campus do not prepare food themselves or take it along with them to the University. Their demand for food gives opportunity to the cafeterias and canteens to serve as the major vending sites where students and other people purchase food daily. Due to this increased consumption of jollof rice as a staple food in most parts of the world, there has been an increased need to determine its safety because the nutritional constituents of this food makes it a rich medium for the growth of micro organisms that might contaminate it (Kaneko et al.2004). The potential sources of contamination of this food are diverse and include soil, water, air, animal, human handlers, fertilizers or plant feeds product, packaging and serving materials (Banwart, 2004). Also, factors such as handling, storage and display may influence the microbiological load of this food at the point of sale (Beuchat and Ryu, 1997; Angelidis et al., 2006)
Ready-to-eat meals form an important sector of the food industry in Nigeria and other developing countries. This is largely due to their availability, affordability and convenience. Apart from their nutritious nature, they also provide a reliable source of income to vendors (Ekanem, 1998; Amoah et al., 2004). In recent years, however, concerns have been expressed about the microbiological safety of ready-to-eat meals due to their short shelf life (Bryan, 1990; Wilkinson, 1990). High bacterial counts and the presence of other food borne pathogens in some ready-to-eat meals have implicated them in the outbreaks of food borne diseases (FAO/Ghana 1997; Mosupuye and von Holy 1999; Adu- Gyamﬁ and Nketsia-Tabiri 2006; Nketsia-Tabiri et al. 2006). In most instances, bacteria such as S. aureus, Salmonella spp. and E. coli proliferate in foods after contamination if subsequent storage temperatures are conducive (Minor and Marth 1972; Doyle and Padhye 1989; WHO, 2002). Although the use of hazard analysis and critical control point (ICMSF, 1988) improves the management of microbiological hazards in food preparation, it does not completely eliminate pathogens from ready-to-eat meals. Additionally, high tropical temperatures promote rapid microbial proliferation and the use of refrigeration also does not completely inhibit the growth of food borne pathogens since most are known to survive refrigeration temperatures (ICMSF 1996).
Moreover, the microbiological quality of this ready to eat food is said to be influenced by a number of other factors such as cuisine type, rice type, cooking methods, serving methods, management and food handling (FEHD, 1995). Nichols et al. (1999) demonstrated that the microbiology quality of ready-to-eat foods from some eateries is low compared to others. Due to the number of outbreaks of food poisoning from ready-to-eat food centers, it is suggested that laws should be enacted on the establishment of ready-to-eat centers, and the staff of such centers should be trained on proper hygienic procedures as well as the transmission of food borne diseases. In Nigeria, there is little or no knowledge of food borne diseases and their transmission among food handlers working in food vending centers and most of them are not aware of any rules guiding the safe preparation of ready-to-eat food. Most proprietors of the food vending centers are not duly licensed and their staffs are also not properly trained. Hence, there is need to examine the microbiological quality of the jollof rice from the food vending centers to reduce the risk of food poisoning and infection.
The overall aim of this work was to assess the aerobic bacterial load and incidence of E.coli in jollof rice sold by vendors in the University of Abuja main Campus.
The objectives of this work are to assess:
- Ø The total microbial load of jollof rice from different vending centers within the University of Abuja main Campus is determined.
- Ø The incidence of E.coli in each sample.