Street food vending has been benefiting both consumers, who are the in low socio economic status, as well as vendors, by creating job opportunities. However, street foods are perceived to be a major public health risk due to contamination. The objective of this study was to evaluate the microbiological quality and safety of street-vended foods in Jimma town in Ethiopia. The study involved collection of socio-economic data using structured questionnaire and laboratory analysis for microbial quality and safety. A total of 160 ready-to-eat street foods (40 each of firfir (mixture of majority of cabbage, watt, macaroni and injera), bread, injera (Ethiopian traditional food) and sambussa) samples were collected from Merkato, Kochi and Agip vending sites in Jimma. Result of the study shows that 85.5% of vendors were women, 54.5% had primary education, 90.9% did not use special apparel for their job as street food vendors, 80.9% handled food with bare hands, 49.1% used well water for cleaning of utensils, and 40% wore no hair covering. The mean microbial counts (CFUg-1) of food samples were dominated by aerobic mesophilic bacteria (5.0 ± 0.5), aerobic bacterial spore (4.0 ±0.4), lactic acid bacteria (4.0 ±0.4), Enterobacteriaceae (3.9 ± 0.6), staphylococci (3.7 ± 0.6), coliform (2.6 ± 0.4), yeasts (3.8 ± 0.5) and moulds (2.6 ± 0.4). Of the total 1697 isolates characterized, the most predominant were Bacillus spp. (41.96%) followed by Staphylococcus spp. (24.28%). Out of the food samples, 29.38% were positive for S. aureus and 13.13% samples were positive for Salmonella. Staphylococcus aureus isolates were resistant to maximum of six antibiotics (8.51%) but Salmonella had showed resistance to four antibiotics (14.29%). Generally, the microbial quality of street-vended food in Jimma town was poor and calls for special attention.
Key words: Foodborne Pathogens, Street-vended Foods, Vendors.
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