Fruits, vegetables sold in Oman flout safety norms

Dec. 14: A study has found that fresh fruits and vegetables sold in Oman do not meet hygiene standards and there is a need for stricter monitoring mechanisms.
The study was conducted by Zahra S Al Kharousi from the department of food science and nutrition, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU).
It may be noted that in Oman, large quantities of fruits and vegetables are imported from all parts of the world to provide a year-round supply.
This study assessed the microbial load of some fresh fruits and vegetables imported or grown in Oman and identified the isolated bacteria by biochemical and molecular methods with emphasis on emergent opportunistic pathogens.
The study also investigated genetic relationships between bacteria isolated from fruits and vegetables originated from different countries in the world.
Fruits and vegetables mostly consumed raw were selected for this study.
These contained 13 types of fresh imported or locally produced fruits and vegetables including banana, dates, mango, papaya, pomegranate, tomato, watermelon, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cucumber, lettuce and radish.
The samples were purchased from local markets in Muscat or Nizwa, during the period of April to September 2014. The imported fruits and vegetables originated from different countries and they were selected depending on their availability in the market during that period. The study identified the presence of high counts of aerobic plate count and Enterobacteriaceae as well as fecal bacteria in the analysed samples.