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Abstract

Indicator microorganisms in chilled coconut water samples sold in São Paulo.

Abstract

Coconut water is a beverage whose consumption has been increasing significantly, due to factors like low calorie, pleasant taste, rehydration mineral constitution and still has the appeal of being natural. In Brazil, the production of coconut water is almost fully directed to the consumption in natura or industrialized. Several studies have reported contamination of cooled coconut water with various types of microorganisms, including molds, yeasts, fecal coliforms and thermotolerants. The precarious hygienic sanitary conditions of handling and storage of the product contributes significantly to contamination of the product and can, thus, become able to cause food poisoning. In this study, 10 samples of chilled coconut water, acquired in supermarkets and farmers markets of the city of Sao Paulo were analyzed. After acquisition, each sample was transported in ice boxes, at 4°C until the laboratory. We proceeded to the research of molds and yeasts, mesophilic aerobic plate count, coliforms and Escherichia coli. The results showed counts above those permitted by legislation in 100% of the samples for molds and yeasts, indicating failures in production processes, cleaning and maintenance, which can be confirmed by the presence of high counts of mesophilic aerobic microorganisms that, as well as molds and yeasts, are indicators of general contamination. Regarding thermotolerant coliforms and Escherichia coli, 10% of the samples showed off the extent permitted by legislation, indicating possible fecal contamination, originating failure in hygienic conditions during processing and/or handling. Based on the results obtained, it is evident that the marketing of chilled coconut water is capable of transmitting pathogenic microorganisms, and thus, better hygiene during processing is needed, in addition to proper conservation.