Bacterial species from retailed poultry eggs in Tshwane, South Africa: Implication for consumers

  • Alexander R. Jambalang 1 Phytomedicine Programme, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa 2 Bacteriology Research Department, National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Nigeria
  • Buys M. Buys Department of Food Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Francien S. Botha Phytomedicine Programme, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Keywords: Enterobacteriaceae, Salmonella, food safety, hens’ eggs, pathogenic bacteria


Food safety is an important public health issue and governments across the world are intensifying their efforts to improve the quantity, quality and the safety of national food supplies. Bacteria, especially Salmonella species, present in or on chicken meat and hens’ eggs in particular are the most common causes of food poisoning and the major sources of human salmonellosis. Literature reveals little information on the risk factors for salmonellae infection in Africa. The aim of this study was to determine which, if any, bacteria, especially Salmonella species, are present in and on hens’ eggs. Representative bacterial colonies were confirmed with Gram staining and then identified using the MALDI-TOF Biotyper assay. The genera identified were Escherichia coli (34%), Enterococcus faecalis (14%), Proteus mirabilis (9%), Klebshiella pneumoniae (7%), Salmonella Typhimurium (6%), Enterobacter cloacae (1%), Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (0.6%), Salmonella Dublin (0.6%) and Salmonella Braenderup (0.2%). Raw hens’ eggs and products containing raw hens’ eggs may contain pathogenic bacteria, thereby exposing a large number of consumers to the risk of contracting food poisoning when undercooked or uncooked hens’ eggs are consumed.

  • Enterobacteriaceae counts are used as an indicator to evaluate the hygienic quality of food.
  • The presence of Salmonella species and other Enterobacteriaceae in raw hens’ eggs poses a health risk to consumers.
  • Any product in which raw eggs are used must be provided with a conspicuous label stating that it may contain pathogenic bacteria.
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