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Product Code: 00007081

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Bacterial contamination on tooth picks sold in MOUAU restaurants was carried out in this study. About forty (40) canteens and restaurants were evaluated in this study. Five (5) bacteria genera were isolated from this study, they includes Escherichia coli, Klebsiella sp., Proteus, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus sp. The frequency of occurrence of the isolates from toothpick in this study shows that Staphylococcus aureus had the highest percentage occurrence of 25(65.99%) while Streptococcus sp.  1(2.6%), Klebsiella sp. 1(2.6%) and Proteus sp. 1(2.6%) had the lowest percentage occurrence while Escherichia coli had occurrence of 10(26.32%). The antibiotic sensitivity pattern of the toothpick isolates showed that the antibiotics; (Ciprofloxacin) CPX 20(80)% , (Gentamycin) CN 18(72)%, (Tarivid) OFX 20(80)% and (Streptomycin) S 18(72)% showed a good percentage sensitivity pattern against Staphylococcus aureus while Streptococcus sp, Klebsiella sp and Proteus sp showed higher resistance to all the antibiotics. Poor sanitation practices and personal hygiene have been incriminated as the main factors responsible for the high prevalence of microbial contaminants in this study.


Title page                                                                                                                                i

Certification                                                                                                                            ii

Dedication                                                                                                                              iii

Acknowledgments                                                                                                                  iv

Table of Contents                                                                                                                   v

List of Tables                                                                                                                          vii

Abstract                                                                                                                                  viii


1.0       Introduction                                                                                                                1

1.1              Aims                                                                                                                            2

1.2              Aims and objectives                                                                                                    2         


2.0       Literature reviews                                                                                                       3

2.1       Wood and food safety assessment                                                                             5

2.2       Methods of microbiological analysis of wood for food contact                                8

2.2       Impact of antibacterial compounds of wood                                                              9

2.3       Assessment of new and used food wooden surfaces                                                 12

2.3.1    Impact of cleaning and disinfection                                                                           12

2.4       Microorganism transfer resulting from wood-food    contact                                    20

2.4.1    Influential factors                                                                                                       20

2.5       Literature of wooden tooth pick                                                                                 25

2.6       Remedies to reduce microbial wood surface contamination                                      29


3.0       Materials and methods                                                                                                30       

3.1       Sterilization of materials                                                                                             30

3.2       Media used                                                                                                                 30

3.3        Sample collection                                                                                                        30

3.4       Innoculation of bacteria                                                                                              31

3.5       Biochemical identification of bacterial isolates                                                                        31

3.6       Gram staining                                                                                                              31

3.7       Biochemical test                                                                                                          32

3.7.1    Catalase test                                                                                                                32

3.7.2    Coagulase test                                                                                                             32

3.7.3    Citrate test                                                                                                                  32

3.7.5    Test for indole production                                                                                          32

3.7.6    Sugar test                                                                                                                    33

3.7.7        Antibiotic sensitivity testing                                                                                       33


4.0       Results                                                                                                                        35


5.0       Discussion and conclusion                                                                                          40

5.1       Discussion                                                                                                                   41

5.2       Conclusion                                                                                                                  42

5.3       Recommendations                                                                                                      43










Table                                                              Title                                                                 Page

1                                  Name of canteen collection point                                                       36

2                                  Morphology and cultural characteristics of the isolates                      38

3                                  Biochemical test                                                                                  39

4                                  Frequency of occurrence of isolates                                                   40

5                                  Antibiotic sensitivity pattern of isolates                                             41










Microorganisms are ubiquitous in nature. They live in every part of the biosphere including soil, hot springs, on the ocean floor, in the atmosphere and deep inside rocks within the earth crust (Ronniie et al., 2013). Microbes are very important tools that have been exploited by people in biotechnology, both in traditional food and beverages preparation, and in modern technologies based on genetic engineering. However, there are many pathogenic microbes, which are harmful and can even cause death in plants and animals (Talaro and Chess, 2008). The pathogenic microbes possess various pathogenic mechanisms that enable them to gain access into the host, attach to receptors on cell surfaces, replicate locally, escape host immune responses, spread to different parts of the body and cause cellular and tissue destructions.

A toothpick is a tiny piece of wood, plastic, bamboo, metal, bone and other substances used to remove debris from the teeth, usually after a meal. Toothpicks usually have one or two sharp ends to insert between teeth. They come in different shapes, sizes, colours, and may also have different flavors. Those made from metals, plastics and wood are the most common types found. Besides being used to remove food from and between teeth, they can be used to perform a number of functions ranging from designing building plans in architecture, to supporting broken stems in floriculture, cleaning and painting hard to reach or awkward places, cake baking and designing, cleaning of nails, applying glue to tight spots and others (Petroski, 2007).

Toothpicks are one of the most poorly handled eating accessories. They are usually placed in bowls or plates and left open in restaurants, bars, eateries and other places where they are used. This unhealthy habit renders them exposed to contaminants from the air, hands, skin and vectors of microbes, such as the houseflies and rodents. The contaminated toothpicks serve as formites,

transmitting the microbes, which have the potentials of causing serious public health problems. The fear that toothpicks could serve as germ spreaders because of how they are usually exposed in bowls or cups where restaurants patrons often recklessly handle them, fingering many and leaving them behind, started gaining attention in the early 20th century and led to their elimination from dinner tables and the ban of open containers of toothpicks by health authorities in Minneapolis (Whitaker, 2012). The propounded inherent danger in the use of toothpicks gained support through the works of Chang and colleagues in which pathogenic bacteria were isolated from hands injured by toothpicks (Chang et al., 2003). Recovery of microorganisms from toothpicks in restaurants, bars, eateries etc. signifies a looming public health danger, considering the nutritional, immunological and physiological effects of the microbes on their human hosts. There is little information on the health implications of toothpicks as fomites. This can be largely attributed to the fact that its use has reduced drastically over the years because most elite societies see its use as vulgar and as an offensive and uncivilized practice and most researchers often neglect the pathogenic-bearing potentials of toothpicks. The dearth of information on the pathogenic transmission potentials of toothpicks encouraged the execution of this study, so as to close the information gap.

1.3              AIMS

Evaluation of Bacterial contamination on tooth picks sold in MOUAU restaurants

1.4              AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

i.                    To isolate and identify bacteria on tooth picks in MOUAU restaurants

ii.                  To determine the antibiotic susceptibility pattern of the isolates



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