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Bacteriological quality of “doubles” sold by street vendors in Trinidad and the attitudes, knowledge and perceptions of the public about its consumption and health risk

Food Microbiology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0740-0020(03)00032-7
  • Bacteriology Quality
  • Total Aerobic Plate Count
  • Street Food
  • Ready-To-Eat
  • Microbiological Criteria
  • Health Risk


Abstract The bacteriological loads of “bara”, “channa”, condiments/spices and ready-to-consume “doubles” sold by street vendors in St. George and Caroni counties of Trinidad were determined. Questionnaires were administered to 100 vendors from both counties to determine which of their practices had effect on the bacteriological quality of the products. In addition, a total of 300 randomly selected members of the public in both counties were interviewed using questionnaires, to assess their attitudes, knowledge and perceptions concerning “doubles” consumption. Of a total of 196 samples each of “bara”, “channa”, condiments/spices and ready-to-eat “doubles” tested, the log 10 mean (±SD) total aerobic plate count (TAPC) per g was 4.87±5.51, 5.79±6.61, 6.26±6.77 and 6.88±7.91, respectively. The difference was statistically significant ( P<0.05; χ 2). Applying a recommended maximum standard of log 10 TAPC per g of 5.00, 10 (5.1%), 19 (9.7%), 57 (29.1%) and 78 (39.8%) of 196 samples of “bara”, “channa”, condiments/spices and ready-to-consume “doubles”, respectively, were deemed unfit for human consumption. Vendor practices, which significantly affected the prevalence of unfit “doubles” were re-use of leftover product ( P=0.01), wearing of hand gloves ( P=0.02), availability of water at sale outlet ( P=0.0008) and source of water ( P=0.0008). Consumption of “doubles” was more common amongst East Indians (69.2%) than other races (30.8%) ( P<0.001) and amongst individuals who were aware that “doubles” can cause food-poisoning (61.4%) compared with individuals who did not have the awareness (36.0%) ( P<0.03). Age, gender and occupational status of individuals did not significantly ( P>0.05) affect consumption of “doubles”. The high prevalence of ready-to-consume “doubles” assessed unfit for human consumption coupled with a significantly higher proportion of consumers than non-consumers being aware that the product could cause food-poisoning, definitely poses a health risk to consumers of “doubles” in the population. Enforcement of sanitary practices during the preparation and sale of “doubles” should reduce the health risk.

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