Hot pepper sauce “shito” is one of the commonly used products in most Ghanaian homes, schools, restaurants etc, which sometimes serves as condiments. This study therefore seeks to determine the water activity profile and microbial safety of hot pepper sauce „shito‟. “Shito” samples were purchased in the Kumasi Metropolis from Food and Drugs Authority registered and non-registered manufacturers. Water Activity and microbial contamination were determined using standard methods. Water Activity (aw) for the results for FDA registered products were between 0.51 and 0.88 while those for product not registered with the FDA were between 0.52 and 0.95. FDA Registered shito samples recorded a significant difference lower total aerobic count (23%) as compared to unregistered samples (46%). The morphological characterization on the agar plates indicated the presence of Escherichia coli. and some suspected Enterococci faecalis spp. However, no Salmonellaspp. was detected in the samples. A direct correlation was found between total aerobic count and coliform assay for samples, which failed the TAC assay. The presence of E.coli indicated the poor personal hygiene of the some of the shito manufacturers. “Shito” produced by FDA registered caterers are safer and might have longer shelf life due to their lower aw and microbial load as compared to non-FDA registered caterers.

1.1 Background of the study
One of the essential elements in foods is water, its impact cannot be underestimated. For some time now, checking of free water in ingredients or foods has become a necessity (Novasima, 2005). The underlying fact is that free water contributes to the growth of microorganisms. The impact of free water in ingredients or in foods enhances the growth of undesirable organism or other harmful substances (Banu 2002; Nicolau et al., 2006). The water activity (aw) profile always comes into play as it enlightens us on some vital information pertaining to the likelihood of microbial growth on the surfaces of foods (Novasima, 2005). Water is an essential element in the facet of our lives, the activity of water significantly influences the growth of microorganisms in foods, the measured quantities or values of water in foods has a direct relation with microbial growth and other metabolic acts (Chirife and Buera, 1996).

The rate at which water functions in foods is influence efficiently or inefficiently by the activity of water. If water in foods were held with another element of molecules that underperforms in a chemical hydrolysis, the overall output of the water activity in the food would be dwindled. In most cases, the tightly bound water in foods has no inclination or disposition to evaporate and as a result, it exercises or apply minimal or no pressure and always result in water activity of zero (Sandulachi, 2012). There is a clear distinction between water activity and water content. Water activity can be used determine the storage, shelf life and stability of food or sauce such as the hot pepper sauce. The activity of the water predicts the growth of microorganisms and influences the potentialities of food spoilage in a food sample (Sandulachi, 2012).

Food security and food stability mostly determined by (pH) levels. These levels are influenced by external environment and water activity of the food. It had been concluded that, water activity is higher with the perishable foods. Regardless of that, at low potential of hydrogen values and minimal water activity (aw), highly soluble concentrations are mostly tolerated by species such as moulds. These species unfold a lot of risks on food stability and security especially foods with intermediate moisture content (Banu, 2002; Nicolau, 2006; Powitz, 2007).

For microorganisms to thrive in food products, it needs some appreciable water before the microorganisms can grow in food products. There is a required amount of water that promotes the growth of microorganisms; microbiologists have certain determinants or requirements that facilitate the growth of microorganisms in the shape of water activity (Rahman 2010). The emergencies of metabolites and other microbial contents are sometimes bent on or incline to alterations or changes in water activities. Environmental factors in some cases influence the levels of microorganisms with emphasize on water activity; the maximum and minimum rate of microorganisms depends on some environmental growth factors. Taxonomy by classification is a key factor in the environmental response of microbial growth (ICMSF, 2001).

Generally, the simple carbohydrates such as raw sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, glucose etc are the first used nutrients before the complex nutrients are utilized. The level of development and growth is sometimes determined by the nutritional content of that particular food. High level of nutrients in food products is a clear causative agent for the growth of pathogens (Darko, 2016).

Temperature plays an integral role in the development and growth of microorganisms; the internal and external factors, coupled with other technological factors influence the growth of microorganisms and its related pathogens. Biologically, there are some organisms which use flora in foods to influence pathogenic species (ICMSF 1980). Environmentally, organisms grow in foods in a unique manner, with a unique rate of growth; the presence of genes also affects the cells count, lag times and generational times. The conglomeration of metabolism mostly limits the thriveness of pathogens or species. The continuous interplay that exists between species or microorganisms and other related environmental components or elements may give rise to associational flora; there is an interaction or interplay between association and succession of flora in microbial and it profile contents (ICMSF 1980).

In Ghana, „shito‟ or black hot pepper sauce can be multi-faceted in the food service industry or domestically; it mostly serves as condiments; it can be used with other foods. Ghanaians have developed a great taste for black pepper sauce “shito”. Most of the hospitality industries in Ghana prefer “shito” to hot oil; as they are all condiments (FAO, 2016). Hot sauce is used both in amping up a recipe during the cooking process, or as a condiment to top anything from scrambled eggs to stir-fry to fresh-baked bread to finish with fiery kick (Seis, 2018). The nutritive value of „shito‟ or blacked hot pepper sauce comprises of sodium and potassium. In one tablespoon of shito food, the body gets 190grams of sodium and 14grams of potassium. This sauce is very good for slimmers because it does not increase the amount of fats in the body. If you feel the need to eat healthy and lose weight „shito‟ is a way forward (Gracia, 2018).

1.2 Statement of the Problem
Hot pepper sauce “shito” is one of the commonly used products in our homes, schools, restaurants etc, that sometimes serves as condiments. The hot pepper sauce “shito” has gained popularity and is mostly patronized by students, food vendors etc. Our preference for hot pepper sauce has been increasing daily, and it will be expedient to consider the production, safety, water activity, microbial safety of this food product. Moreover, for health reasons, shelf life of the product and other pertinent concerns in our food industry, it is always a worthwhile to take proper measures in our preparation of condiments such as hot pepper sauce (Ref). There is a research gap in the safety of hot pepper sauce “shito”. The researcher thought it expedient to study the water activity profile and the microbial safety of hot pepper sauce “shito”.

This study therefore seeks to determine the water activity profile and microbial safety of hot pepper sauce „shito‟. The determinants were Staphylococcus bacteria, salmonella bacteria, Clostridium perfringens in the hot pepper sauce and the water activity profile of the hot pepper sauce.

1.3 Objective
To determine the water activity profile and microbial safety of hot pepper sauce „shito‟.

1.4 Significance of the Study
The high patronage of hot pepper sauce “shito” among consumers or customers in Ghana has given us a course for concern. In promoting a healthy living with respect to what we consume, production losses, stability, food security, etc the need has come to ascertain the water activity profile and microbial safety of registered and unregistered hot pepper sauce „shito‟.

It is hoped that the findings of the study, will be of immense help to stakeholders such as the „shito‟ producers, restaurants operators, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ghana Standard Authority, Ministry of Health (MOH), Ghana Health Service (GHS) and other institutions who may have interest in the outcome of the research. This research finding will form a background for researchers who will be conducting research in a similar area. Consumers will be abreast with the impact of water activity and microbial safety of hot pepper sauce „shito‟.

1.5 Limitations of the Study
The challenges encountered at the course of this thesis were related to inadequacy of resources being it time and other accessibilities. Financial constraints had a toe on the sample size for the study; few samples were used because of the financial challenges. Some of the „shito‟ producers fell reluctant to respond to questions. The scope of the study covered only the water activity profile and microbial safety of hot pepper sauce „shito‟, the impact of water activity on microbial growth of shito and the impact of water activity level and microbial load on food safety and shelf life of „shito‟.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 48 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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