Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 2487–2497 | Cite as

Bacteriological quality of fresh produce and link to water and sanitation service access from informal markets in Mzuzu, Malawi

  • Rochelle HolmEmail author
  • Jealous Mwangende
  • Mavuto Tembo
  • Wales Singini


In 2010, the global burden of foodborne diseases was 33 million Disability-adjusted life years, and 40 % of this burden was for children under 5 years old (Havelaar et al. 2015). Our study site was informal public markets within Mzuzu, Malawi, visited between September and December 2015, during the dry season. From these markets, fresh vegetables, leafy greens (n = 85), tomato (n = 85), and green pepper (n = 35) were analyzed for Escherichia coli. The prevalence of E. coli was highest on leafy greens; it was found in 74 (87 %) of the 85 samples. The prevalence of E. coli in green peppers was found in 2 (6 %) of the 35 samples. The prevalence of E. coli was lowest on tomatoes; it was found in only 1 (1 %) of the 85 samples. The lack of adequate water and sanitation infrastructure in market areas may be contributing to the bacteriological contamination of fresh produce. Providing venders with free access to market area toilets containing hand-washing facilities with soap and wash water with a chlorine solution may reduce bacterial contamination of fresh produce. Universal and sustainable access to water and sanitation services must include informal public market areas to reduce diarrheal diseases transmitted through food within Sub-Saharan Africa countries.


Tomato Green pepper Hygiene Leafy greens E. coli Malawi 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rochelle Holm
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jealous Mwangende
    • 1
  • Mavuto Tembo
    • 2
  • Wales Singini
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre of Excellence in Water and SanitationMzuzu UniversityMzuzuMalawi
  2. 2.Department of Land ManagementMzuzu UniversityMzuzuMalawi
  3. 3.Department of FisheriesMzuzu UniversityMzuzuMalawi

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