Aim: The aim of this study was to carry out microbiological assessment on Stalk, Endocarp, Epicarp, Tip and Vascular Tissue of Different Varieties of Banana fruit (Musa spp.) (Cavendish, Dwarf Cavendish, Red, Lady Finger and Grand Nain Banana).
Study Design: The study employs statistical analysis of the data and interpretation.
Place and Duration of Study: Three major markets - Oil Mill (OM), Fruit Garden (FG), Mile Three (MT), all located in the city of Port-Harcourt, Nigeria. Sample collection lasted for a week and the analysis was carried out every day and it lasted for six months.
Methodology: A total of forty-five (45) banana (Cavendish, Dwarf Cavendish, Red, Lady Finger and Grand Nain Banana) fruit samples were collected for a period of three months from three different markets (Oil Mill, Fruit Garden and Mile Three Markets) in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The collected samples were grouped into three (Unripe, Healthy-Looking and Spoiled) and were subjected to standard microbiological procedures which includes standard plate counts, biochemical and molecular identification of the isolates.
Results: A total of 124 isolates were isolated from the different sampled parts (Cut stalk, Tip, Endocarp, Vascular Tissue and Epicarp) of the banana fruit. Staphylococcus aureus count in the unripe sampled Banana fruits from Oil Mill market showed high prevalent rate in the Cut Stalk of the Cavendish Banana at 4.17±0.31x102 CFU/g followed by the Tips of the Grand Nain and Cavendish Banana at 4.03±0.21x102 CFU/gand 4.00±0.20x102 CFU/g, respectively. While the TCC in the Healthy-Looking sampled fruits from Fruit Garden showed more microbial load in the Epicarp of the Dwarf Cavendish Banana at 2.93±1.15x103 CFU/g followed by the Tip and Epicarp of the Grand Nain Banana at 2.70±0.82x103 CFU/g and 2.60±0.46x103 CFU/g. The total fungal count (TFC) in Healthy-Looking sampled Banana fruits showed high prevalent rate in Oil Mill market at 2.79x103 CFU/g > Mile Three market, 2.31x103 CFU/g > 1.35x103 CFU/g at Fruit Garden market. While the result of the total Staphylococcal count in the unripe sampled Banana fruits showed that Staphylococcus aureus was more prevalent in Creek Road market at 1.65x102 CFU/g > Mile One at 1.64x102 CFU/g and the least seen in Mile Three market at 1.50x102 CFU/g. The result of the Coliform count in the spoiled sampled Banana fruits showed that coliform was more prevalent in Mile One market at 2.14x103 CFU/g > 1.98x103 CFU/g in Fruit Garden market and less prevalent in Creek Road market at 1.75x103 CFU/g. The Grand Nain Banana had the most microbial load at 33.9% > Dwarf Cavendish Banana, 25% > Cavendish Banana, 16.9% > Lady Finger Banana, 14.5% > Red Banana at 9.7%. The study location with the most microbial load is the Oil Mill market at 21.23% > Mile One, 20.64% > Creek Road, 20.01% > Mile Three, 19.23% > Fruit Garden, 18.88%.
Conclusion: Grand Nain banana variety has the highest microbial load thus consumption of it should be washed or cleansed thoroughly. Secondly, of the different parts sampled, Cut stalk of banana is associated with highest microbial load, therefore it should checked properly or cut off when peeling/during consumption, The high load of Staphylococcusaureus, Escherichiacoli and Bacillus is of great concern. These organisms associated with different parts and varieties of banana fruits (Musa spp.) in Port Harcourt Nigeria, poses serious threat to consumers. Prohibition of anthropogenic activities within the markets and farms should be encouraged in order to reduce the level of contamination of these fruits. Also, public awareness on safe and hygienic practices in the handling and distribution of Banana fruits from the farms to the markets should be encouraged.