It is identified that through the cleanout practice of utensils, dishes, etc. in kitchens, the before washing and after washing activities are done with the use of sponges to remove food remains. These food residues along with the wetness in the sponges tender an encouraging environment for microbial proliferation. Sponges and tea towels used in cleaning equipments and utensils have been known as possible agents in the spread of microbes and it has been pragmatic that bacteria stick to these vehicles. Evaluation on the prevalence of Salmonella spp. from kitchen sponges was conducted from October, 2010 to June, 2011. The sponges used on a daily basis in food establishments were studied for the incidence of Salmonella spp. A total of 201 sponge samples from restaurants, hotels, cafeterias and pastry shops were included in the study. Antibiotic resistance patterns of Salmonella isolates were done using nine antibiotics selected on the basis of accessibility and present use in Ethiopia. The results show that 11.9% of the kitchen sponges were found to have Salmonella. Frequencies of isolation of Salmonella differed among the establishment types and it varied from 10 (restaurants) to 12.8% (cafeterias). Noteworthy, deviation in prevalence of Salmonella among restaurants, hotels, pastry shops and cafeterias (p=0.023) were statistically significant. Ampicillin and nalidixic acid were the most resisted drugs. Five drug resistance patterns were distinguished among Salmonella isolates. These results demonstrate the risk posed by the daily use of kitchen sponges in food establishments’ vis-à-vis Salmonella. Awareness creation training on basic hygienic practices to personnel’s working in food establishment, frequent change of sponges being used in kitchens, and monitoring of safety practices of the establishments are recommended.
Key words: Salmonella sp., prevalence, antibiotic resistance, kitchen sponges, Jimma town.
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