keywords: Foodborne pathogens, ready-to-eat foods, faeco-oral route, antibiotic resistance, hygienic practices, foodborne diseases
Outdoor play among other factors predispose schoolchildren to intestinal parasitic infections. Home-packed children’s meal which they take to school could be contaminated with microorganisms. In this study, a total of fifteen (15) samples of schoolchildren’s meal obtained from five (5) selected private primary schools in Benin City and faeces of the pupils were analyzed using standard microbiological and parasitological methods. Antibiotic susceptibility test of the bacterial isolates involved disc agar diffusion method while molecular methods applies to plasmid DNA isolation and profiling of the isolates. Bacteria isolated from the food samples and their percentage occurrence include Escherichia coli (30 %), Staphylococcus aureus (25 %), Streptococcus sp. (20 %), Bacillus cereus (15 %) and Bacillus subtilis (10 %) while the fungal isolates were Penicillium notatum (25 %), Aspergillus niger (25 %), Saccharomyces cerevisiae (17 %), Fusarium sp. (17 %), Rhizopus stolonifer (8 %) and Aspergillus flavus (8 %). Prevalence of intestinal parasites detected in the faeces include Ascaris lumbricoides (37.5 %), Giardia intestinalis (37.5 %), Entamoeba coli (12.5 %) and Hymenolepis nana (12.5 %). Gram positive bacterial isolates were sensitive to gentamicin and ofloxacin; same applies to Gram negative isolate against ofloxacin and ciprofloxacin. All the food samples met the International Commission on Microbiological Specification for Food (ICMSF) criteria for THBC. In order to prevent schoolchildren from intestinal parasites and foodborne pathogens through faeco-oral transmission route, good kitchen hygiene practices, personal and environmental hygiene and proper monitoring of children’s activities are recommended.