Food sold by roadside vendors was compared with French Standards (AFNOR, 1996) in order to determine the microbiological quality of cooked meals. Forty-two samples of fresh and smoked fish and bushmeat were collected between March and May 2013 in Kisangani (The Democratic Republic of Congo), and analysed. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and post-hoc Tukey tests were used to analyse the level of contamination according to the category of cooked food. Results were significant at the 0.05 threshold. For all three categories of dishes, the average bacterial counts (total aerobic plate count) were above the critical threshold: bushmeat (6.70 ± 0.15 log cfu g-1), smoked fish (6.44 ± 0.09 log cfu g-1) and fresh fish (5.97 ± 0.33 log cfu g-1). The difference in levels of contamination between groups was statistically significant (p < 0.05, ANOVA test). Bushmeat was the most contaminated category (p < 0.05, Tukey test). Most of the 42 samples were of unsatisfactory microbiological quality: 38 (90.5%) due to total aerobic plate count; 24 (57.1%) to Salmonella sp. and 21 (50%) to Staphylococcus aureus. The application of hygienic practices during the preparation and sale of street food could reduce the microbial risk. Such training is highly recommended for roadside food vendors.
Key words: Microbiological quality, street food, food contamination, bacteriological count, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo.