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Bacterial Contamination of Sago Starch in Papua New Guinea

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Abstract:

Sago starch is an important food in lowland Papua New Guinea. Extraction of the starch from the palm and storage were performed by way of traditional methods that have been used for thousands of years. Currently, very little is known about the microbiology of sago starch. Sago samples were collected from areas of high starch utilization and analyzed for the presence of bacterial pathogens and indicator organisms. Storage methods and duration were recorded at the time of collection, and pH and water activity on arrival at the laboratory. Sago starch was found to harbor high levels of fecal contamination, as well as various food pathogens including Salmonella, Bacillus cereus, and coagulase-positive staphylococci. Clostridium perfringens was only present infrequently in samples and in very low numbers, while Listeria monocytogenes was not isolated from sago starch. The presence of high levels of fecal contamination in sago starch is of particular concern, and may contribute to diarrheal disease in rural Papua New Guinea.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, 4811, Queensland, Australia 2: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, 4811, Queensland, Australia; Mission College, Muak Lek, Saraburi, 18180, Thailand 3: Department of Applied Sciences, University of Technology, Lae, Papua New Guinea

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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