Objective: To evaluate microbiological contamination of areca nut-containing, ready-to-eat chewing substances easily accessible to vulnerable paediatric population. Methods: A pilot study was conducted at the Aga Khan University Medical College from June to October 2016 on twelve samples of areca nut-containing chewing substances (four supari, paan masala and gutka each) collected from various localities of Karachi. These were evaluated individually for total colony counts, hygiene indicator organisms, pathogenic organisms, and levels of aflatoxin. Microbial contamination was analysed using pour-plate method. Fungal aflatoxin levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Results: Wet gutka preparations were contaminated by Escherichia coli and Enterobacteriacaea. High levels of fungal aflatoxin (range: 0.43-1.84 mg/kg), a proven carcinogen, were identified in all the 12(100%) products. No sample contained pathogenic bacteria. However, 1(8.33%) sample did not meet hygiene criteria cut-off. Conclusion: Habitual use of unhygienic chewing substances containing fungal toxins is a public health concern that needs to be addressed through a preventative, behaviour-changing strategy.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2019|