This study was conducted to determine the microbiological quality and hygienic levels of meat contact surfaces at abattoir and retail houses in Jigjiga town, Ethiopia. A total of ninety pooled swab samples were taken from abattoir floor surface, butchers’ hands, hooks and knives and cutting boards to assess the presence and load of Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, aerobic bacteria (aerobic plate counts or APCs), fecal coliforms (FCs), yeast and molds (Y&Ms), and Campylobacter spp. Based on the data obtained, highest average S. aureus and E. coli O157:H7 counts were found in retail houses (6.43±0.34 cfu/cm2) and abattoir (6.03±0.03 cfu/cm2) butchers’ hands respectively. Campylobacter species was detected only from abattoir floor surface. Overall, 3.33% of the samples were positive for Campylobacter spp. L. monocytogenes were not detected in any of the meat contact surface samples. The highest FCs (6.25±0.075 log10 cfu/cm2) and Y&Ms (5.19±0.513 log10 cfu/cm2) counts were found in abattoir floor surface while the highest APCs (6.08±0.126 log10 cfu/cm2) were found in butchers’ hand. According to this result, abattoir and retails meat contact surfaces might be considered as sources of meat contamination. Therefore, good hygienic practices should be introduced in order to enhance the overall microbial quality and hygienic level of meat contact surfaces and safeguard the consumer from foodborne pathogens.
Key words: Abattoir, contact surface, hygiene, meat, retail house.