This study was aimed at determining the occurrence of Staphylococcus species in ready-to-eat (RTE) Rhynchophorus phoenicis (edible larvae) and Archachatina marginata (land snail) vended along Port Harcourt-Bayelsa route. Eighty samples from four locations were analysed employing standard techniques for proximate and microbiological analyses; virulence determination and antibiotic susceptibility. Data were statistically analyzed using ANOVA and t-test. The mean proximate results revealed the presence of protein (26.01/13.6%), lipid (18.9/3.88%), fibre (5.12/2.01%), ash (3.40/1.11%), moisture (13.47/59.5%) and carbohydrate (32.43/20.07%) for edible larvae/snail, respectively. Of the 80 samples examined, 33 (41.25%) and 52 (65.00%) had total viable bacterial counts and total staphylococcal counts above acceptable microbiological limits, respectively for RTE foods. Seven of the 81 characterized Staphylococcus produced the expected band of 950 bp with sea virulent genes while three produced expected bands of 550 bp with seb virulent genes. Three Staphylococcus aureus strains from edible larvae harboured both virulent genes. The virulent genes bearing Staphylococcus were 100% resistant to augmentin, ceftazidime and cloxacillin but showed varying resistance against ceftriaxone (57.14%), cefuroxime (28.57%), vancomycin (42.86%), oxacillin (42.86%) and cefoxitin (42.86%). The study showed that these RTE foods are potential sources of staphylococcal food poisoning in commuters; hence, food vendors need to conform to standard practice.
Key words: Edible larvae, land snail, staphylococcal enterotoxin A (sea), virulence.
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