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Fruit, Juice, E.coli, Heavy metals, microbial safety
It is typically assumed that fruit products are safer compared to other perishable uncooked and semi cooked meat products. However, many outbreaks have been associated with the consumption of contaminated fruits and its juices. A study was conducted to evaluate the microbiological and chemical contamination status of the fresh fruit juices being served at various juice centers/markets in Islamabad, Pakistan. A total of fifty juice samples from different fruits Apple, Strawberry, Pineapple, Orange and Carrot) were analysed for its organoleptic microbiological (total Escherichia coli count), basic chemical tests and heavy metals concentration. Five homemade Juices made under hygienic conditions were taken as control and the obtained results compared with commercial juices (samples). Microbial safety assessment of the sample juices indicated that the microbial load of 31 samples were above acceptable limits. The microbial results of the sample were also supported by the physicochemical tests like pH and total solids since their higher value provide favourable conditions to microbial growth. The Heavy metals levels of the juices were evaluated using Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer. The heavy metal concentrations in the sample juices (carrot, apple, pineapple, strawberry, orange) were found as; Cr (0.05, 0.007, 0.02, 0.06, 0.012, Mn (0.005, 0.22, 0.3, 0.26, 0.083), Co (below detection limit (BDL), BDL,0.01, 0.09, 0.002), Ni (0.008, 0.007, 0.1, 0.7, 0.008), Cu (0.045, 0.09, 0.2, 0.414, 0.14), Zn (0.07, 0.2, 0.35, 0.516, 0.21), As (BDL, BDL, BDL, not detected (ND), BDL), Cd (ND, BDL, BDL, ND, BDL), Pb (0.176, 0.041, BDL, 0.195, BDL). It indicates that the levels of some metals are within the safe limit but some of them exceed the already set limits by WHO, US-EPA and PPFR (Table 5). It was concluded that the overall quality of fresh unpasteurized juices sold in Islamabad was very poor. Furthermore, the presence of heavy metals contamination confirmed the bad quality of these juices as well as microbial contamination can cause harmful effects to human health. The occurrence of pathogenic E. coli is alarming enough for an immediate action by respective authorities. It is suggested that regular monitoring of the quality of fruit juices for human consumption must be introduced to avoid any future pathogen outbreaks.
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