Assessment of safety and shelf life of sachet water produced and sold in Ile-Ife, Osun state, Nigeria.
Sachet water on sales have been identified to contain microorganism of public health significance and sometimes it is found to contain particles and off colour with many industries accused of packaging unprocessed water into sachet. This study was carried out to assess the safety and shelf life of the sachet water produced in Ile-Ife for consumption. Fifteen sachet water industries were selected for this study using systematic sampling technique. Source water and freshly packaged sachet water samples collected at the industries were assessed at the baseline for coliform bacteria, colour, pH, conductivity, total suspended solids, calcium, chloride, magnesium, nitrates and hardness using W.H.O standard method for assessment of drinking water quality (APHA, 1998). Samples of sachet water that met W.H.O standards at baseline were stored in four different ambient conditions and assessed fortnightly over eight weeks. The results were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Enterobacter cloacae, Citrobacter koseri, Pseudomonas aerogenes, Proteus ridgetti, Shigella dysenteriae, and aerobic spore’s formers were isolated in 46.7%, 40.0%, 20.0%, 6.7%, 26.6% and 20.0% of the source water samples respectively. Enterobacter cloacae, Citrobacter koseri, Pseudomonas aerogenosa and Klebsiella aerogenosa were isolated in 73.3%, 40%, 13.3% and 6.7% of the freshly processed sachet water samples and majority were susceptible to many commercially available antibiotics used in this study. Coliform bacteria were present in all the source water samples and 93.3% of the freshly prepared sachet water while 73.3% of the source water samples and 46.7% of the freshly prepared sachet water had total heterotrophic bacteria above 100cfu/ml. The bacteria load was lower in freshly prepared sachet water and chloride was significantly higher. Coliform bacteria were not isolated in sachet water at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks but the bacteria load of sachet water was higher at 2 weeks and lower at 6 and 8 weeks. The physical and chemical parameter of source water and freshly prepared sachet water were negligible compared to the standard limits; the pH, 6.51-7.41, conductivity, 12.52-165.1 u/s, total dissolved solids, 7.50-98.90 mg/l, turbidity, 0.00-3.00 NTU, and concentration of nitrate, 0.00-1.20 mg/l, chlorides, 1.27-17.22 mg/l, magnesium, 0.00-7.39 mg/l and calcium 0.87-14.10 mg/l. Conductivity and dissolved solids were lower at 4 weeks while turbidity was higher at 6 and 8 weeks. The pH was higher at 8 weeks. The chloride concentration was higher at 2 weeks. The calcium and magnesium was lower at 6 and 8 weeks, and nitrate higher at 8 weeks. Nitrate, magnesium and calcium were significantly higher in sachet water exposed outside in the open air. And over three-quarter of the sachet water industries had adequate environmental hygiene. It was concluded that the physical and chemical parameters of water samples from the original fifteen sachet water industries were within acceptable limit. However, non-faecal coliform bacteria were present and the total heterotrophic bacteria counts were unacceptable making the water unsafe for consumption. Of the fifteen sachet water industries, water samples from only one industry was fit for consumption because it has no coliform and the physical and chemical properties were within acceptable limit. Samples of this water after been stored in different conditions over eight weeks was found to be fit for consumption because coliform was absent and the total heterotrophic bacteria count, physical and chemical properties were acceptable.