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The analysis was carried out to determine the microbial load on African oil bean.  The Total Heterophilic Bacteria Count recorded ranges from 1.2 X 1010 – 2.8 X 1010 Cfu/g  and the Total Coliform count ranges from 7.8 X 109 – 9.8 X 109Cfu/g  and the Total Fungi Count obtained ranges from 1.6 X 1010 – 1.7 X 1010 Cfu/g. Five genera of bacteria were isolated which are salmonella, Staphylococcus, Escherichia coli, Bacillus, and Klebisiella. Fungal isolates were Rhizopus spp., Aspergillus spp., mucor spp., and Penicillium spp. The presence of microorganism in food can be during food processing and handling. The high coliform counts are an indication of poor sanitary practices in production of these samples.










Agbarati also known as “Usu” is an indigenous meat analogue produced mainly in the rural areas of  South  Eastern Nigeria. It is generally understood as melon cake. Melon cakes are sometimes mixed with cooked sliced fermented oil bean fruit called “Ugba” in Ibo and cooked with stockfish (Nwokoma, 2008). This local delicacy is a steamed product obtained after blending uniformly melon seeds (Colocynthis citrullus) and “Erousu” (Sclerotus tuber-regium) with the addition of other ingredients (Pepper, Onions, Salt, Warm water and Seasoning). It is eaten as asnack and is often added to vegetable soups as a meat substitute. In some rural parts of  Nigeria, melon seed meal is compacted into patties that serve as a meat substitute (Ogunsua, 2000).

In Imo State, it is called “Agbarati”, in Umuahia “Ngbam”, in Onitsha, “Agbaghelu atui” and understood in the Ibo tribe as “Akpuruakpu Egusi”. Melon seeds are pounded and used in the preparation of popular steamed snack known as  “Agbaghelu atui” (Onitsha) (Nwokoma, 2008). They are molded into balls of various shapes (round, flattened or cylindrical) with the colour of its balls  ranging from dark brown to light grey. Health wise, the meat analogue is important to the diet because they provide the body with proteins, fiber and other essential micronutrients (Decker, 2004). David and Aderibigbe (2010) stated that its composition shows: Moisture content of 40%, Ash content of 14%, Crude fiber  of 2.40%, 20% fat, 10.50% protein and Carbohydrate of 10.60 %. It has a shelf life of 24hours at ambient temperature (Akobundu et al., 1982; Nwakaudu, 2010).

The preservation of Agbarati-Indigenous meat analogue has been tried using such methods as drying and packaging material (Nwakaudu, 2010) but no work has been done on the use of chemical preservative methods to extend the shelf life of Agbarati.

This product has a problem of deteriorating easily after 24 hours when kept under ambient temperature, it loses its taste, becomes slimy and mold infested. As a result of this problem, Agbarati has remained a remote product whose production has not been incorporated into an industrial scale. Its major raw material (melon seeds) has poor storage problems. At local levels however, stored melon seeds do

not keep well possibly owing to poor processing and storage technique (Adegoke and Ndife, 1993). Therefore, there is need to extend the shelf life of melon seeds through processing and use of food grade chemical preservatives so as to make it available all year round. This would also help to reduce the high cost of melon seeds during off seasons having its product as a meat analogue (Decker, 2004). Agbarati is a good substitute to meat in vegetable soups especially for  Vegetarians. Also, being a proteinous food, the success of its  preservation will go a long way in boosting the Nigerian economy since its counterpart (animal protein) is very expensive.


The aim of this study is to evaluate the microbial load on agbarati.


  • To isolate microorganisms from agbarati
  • To characterize the organisms associated with agbarati



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