A survey carried out by a team of scientists of the Microbiology, Fermentation and Biotechnology Division of Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) Kochi, found Salmonella in 29 per cent of seafood samples.
During the screening process, the researchers collected as many as 150 fresh seafood samples including popular varieties like sardine, mackerel, prawns and crabs from the markets in and around Kochi.
The study was conducted by a team of scientists including S.S. Greeshma, M.M. Prasad, K.V. Lalitha, Toms C. Joseph, and V. Murugadas.
The presence of salmonella in seafood indicates contamination with human and animal excreta. Fishes and shellfish normally do not harbour micro-organisms like salmonella but can get contaminated with through the use of contaminated ice, water, containers and poor hygienic handling practices, explained Dr. Greeshma.
Samples were collected over a period of nine months. Once salmonella reaches soil and aquatic environments, it can survive there for long periods.
While cooking kills the micro-organism, there exists the risk of cross-contamination with other food items that are consumed raw when handled along with seafood contaminated with salmonella.
Humans who come into direct contact with salmonella-contaminated seafoods face health risk, she explained.
The study underscores the need to hygienic handling of fish in the markets, said C.N. Ravishankar, Director of the Institute in a communication.
The researchers are planning a source study to identify the routes and points of possible contamination of the fish.