INCIDENCE OF TOXIGENIC MOULDS IN FOOD SPICES SOLD IN OPEN MARKETS IN BENIN CITY, NIGERIA
Spices are parts of plants or plant substances primarily used for flavouring and preservation of food. Spices can be exposed to microbial contamination and toxic substances such as mycotoxins during processing storage and distribution. The aim of the study was to determine the incidence of toxigenic moulds in food spices sold in open markets in Benin City. A total of 35 samples were obtained from three markets. Potato dextrose agar (PDA) and Aspergillus flavus and parasiticus agar (AFPA) were employed for the isolation, characterization and identification of fungal isolates using standard microbiological procedures. The pH was determined using an electronic pH meter, titratable acidity and moisture content were also determined using appropriate methods. Fungi isolated in this study included; Fusarium sp., Alternaria sp., Rhizopus sp., Geotrichum sp., Cladosporium sp., Aspergillus niger and Penicillium sp. The most occurring fungus was Fusarium sp. (26%) while Alternaria sp. (2%) was the least occurring fungus. The fungal load ranged from 0.33 - 28.67 x 103 sfu/g and the pH values of samples ranged from 4.83 – 5.67. The titratable acidity ranged from 0.037 – 0.521 mg/l, while the moisture content ranged from 2.0 – 28.0%. The study revealed the presence of toxigenic moulds such as Fusarium and Penicillium species in food spices sold in open markets. This may have resulted from improper storage, handling and poor sanitary conditions in the open markets.
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