MICROBIOLOGICAL QUALITY AND SAFETY ASSESSMENT OF (SOBIA) A TRADITIONALLY FERMENTED BEVERAGE OF WESTERN SAUDI ARABIAHUSSEIN H. ABULREESH, FATIMAH S. ALSULAMI, SARA H. ARAFA, HAYAT ASHI, HAJRAH A. KHAN AND KHALED ELBANNA
Sobia is a traditional fermented beverage that is well known in the western province of Saudi Arabia particularly during Ramadhan season. The beverage is sold by retailers as well as by anonymous street vendors. We aimed to examine the microbiological qualities of sobia and provide a safety assessment of its consumption. Total counts of aerobic mesophilic bacteria were performed on plate count agar, determination of staphylococci count was carried on mannitol salt agar, while quantitative determination of coliforms and thermotolerant coliforms was carried out by most probable number (MPN) method, antimicrobial susceptibility testing was carried out by means of disc diffusion method on Mueller-Hinton agar. All sobia samples (P <0.001) obtained from anonymous street vendors or low profile retailers were found to be in an unsatisfactory microbiological quality. Escherichia coli, Cronobacter sakazakii, Enterobacter cloacae and Klebsiella pneumoniae were predominant than other coliforms genera. Although the majority of these species (P <0.001, x2) were not exhibiting multidrug resistance, the consumption of sobia samples sold on the street by anonymous vendors may pose significant public health risk and therefore it should be avoided.