How Market Traders Clean Food Prep Areas in Benin City

Jim Crocker
25th January, 2024

How Market Traders Clean Food Prep Areas in Benin City

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Benin turned their attention to the cleanliness and handling habits surrounding cutting boards in open markets of Benin City. Cutting boards are an essential tool in food preparation, but they can also be a breeding ground for bacteria if not maintained properly. The study employed a dual approach: a survey using a structured questionnaire and scientific testing in the lab. Researchers were specifically looking for two types of bacteria - Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Aeromonas - on cutting boards used for meat and vegetables. E. coli, a bacteria that can live in the intestines of healthy people and animals, is often a benchmark for contamination, as certain strains can cause serious food poisoning. Aeromonas, while less known, can also lead to infections, especially in individuals with weakened immune systems. According to the analysis, E. coli was found on all the cutting board samples taken from the markets, which signals a universal risk of contamination. While E. coli was present across the board, concentrations of Aeromonas varied, with noticeably higher levels found in areas where vegetables were processed. When assessing the hygiene practices of traders through their questionnaire, the study yielded significant findings. Around 30% of the market traders don't cover their cutting boards when not in use, exposing them to the open-market elements. On a more positive note, 88% do clean the boards before using them, but the methods diverge: a little over half use both water and detergent, whereas 12% simply dust off their boards, a method that is unlikely to remove harmful bacteria effectively. In terms of food storage, the survey revealed contrasting behaviors between meat and vegetable sellers. The vast majority of meat sellers, about 80%, utilize refrigerators for storing leftover meat, which is a recommended practice to inhibit bacterial growth. In contrast, only 68% of vegetable sellers do the same, with many leaving leftovers out in the open market, which could contribute to the higher levels of Aeromonas found on vegetable boards. These insights are telling. They show that while there is some awareness of hygienic practices, there is room for improvement, particularly in relation to the cleaning methods and storage of food and cutting boards. The study presents a clear call to action for increased educational efforts directed at market traders. Enhancing their knowledge on effective cleaning techniques and driving home the importance of storing food properly can go a long way in reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses for consumers.



Main Study

1) Traders' behavioural practices and hygienic status of vegetable and meat processing surfaces in open markets in Benin city, Nigeria.

Published 25th January, 2024

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