Prevalence of foodborne pathogens in food from selected African countries – A meta-analysis
Matsheka, Maitshwarelo I
Ackah, Nina B
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Food safety information in the African region is insufficient and fragmented due to lack of surveillance, documentation and reporting, thereby resulting in inefficient utilization of resources, duplication of activities, and lack of synergy among the countries of the region. This paper reviews the prevalence of foodborne pathogens in seven African countries (Benin, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan and Uganda) from papers in regional or international journals published between January 2000 and December 2015. One hundred and sixteen publications that dealt with food microbiology were reviewed for general analysis, while 66 papers on contamination of pathogenic bacteria were used for meta-analysis of prevalence. The food items were split into two categories: raw foods and ready-to-eat (RTE) foods (including street food and beverages) for meta-analysis. Majority of the reviewed studies (67.2%, 78/116) dealt with food of animal origin: 38.8% for meat and eggs, 17.2% for dairy products and 11.2% for aquatic products. Only 8.6% examined foods of plant origin (fruits and vegetables). The remaining 24.1% was the composite RTE food and beverages. Enterobacteriaceae, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes were the most frequently reported organisms in those studies. Although the data were highly heterogeneous, a striking feature is high prevalence of the major pathogens in RTE foods, almost as high as in raw foods. E. coli averaged at 37.6% in raw foods and 31.6% in RTE foods. The corresponding prevalence for Salmonella was 19.9% vs 21.7%; S. aureus, 27.8% vs 25.1% and L. monocytogenes, 19.5% vs 6.7%. The average prevalence of foodborne pathogens in these countries was 34.2% (29.0–39.3%). Differences in food types as well as non-uniform protocols for sampling and identification might have contributed to high heterogeneity (I2 > 97%) although some high prevalence data could be factual with extensive varieties of raw and RTE foods. Need for improved hygienic practices in handling of raw or RTE foods are suggested. Implementation of surveillance programs that use uniform laboratory protocols across the region could give homogeneous results.