A professor of Microbiology, Department of Microbiology, Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. Bolanle Opere, has said that over 800,000 die annually across the world through food and waterborne human diarrhea brought about by unhygienic handling of food items.
This is just as she said over 650 million were similarly infected, with most of the victims being children under the age of five and mainly living in developing nations.
She stated this while delivering the 90th LASU Inaugural Lecture series with the title, “Microbes in the environment: Unseen femmes fatales and virtuous saviours.”
She attributed the fatalities to poor and unhygienic handling of food items by sellers among others.
Citing the reports of research conducted by her team in some markets in Ado-Odo Local Government Area of Ogun State and some markets in Lagos State, she noted that the presence of 40 bacterial and 14 fungal organisms were noticed in leafy and salad vegetables sold in the markets.
“The study found that vegetables sold in markets in Lagos, Nigeria are potential reservoirs of microbial contaminants due to unhygienic practices in the markets and improper farming conditions, poor transportation etc. The contribution of this paper to knowledge is that it highlights the need for proper hygiene practices and farming conditions to reduce the risk of food poisoning from contaminated vegetables.”
She also posited that the microbial content of abattoir wastewater in Lagos was high and that had led to the contamination of soil.
“Consideration is hardly given to safety practices during animal transport to abattoirs, during slaughter and during dressing. For example, during dressing, the oesophagus of cattle and sheep should be sealed to prevent leakage of animal contents,” she noted.
Opere agreed that some bacteria help to enhance plant growth and yield and could promote the use of biofertilisers.
“The use of novel PGPR as bio inoculant is an alternative sustainable agricultural practice to improve soil health, grain quality, increase crop productivity and conserve biodiversity,” she said.
She called for the exploitation of the opportunities in the field of microbiology for national development in view of the benefits derivable from the activities of some microbes.