Potential Bacterial Health Risk Posed to Consumers of Fresh Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) Water


Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) water is a refreshing drink consumed mostly directly from the fruit. However, in recent times, consumers in Accra prefer to have it transferred into plastic bags for later consumption; this favours a high risk of bacterial contamination. Since it is rich in nutrient, it may become unwholesome with possible high bacteria loads. However, its use for managing and preventing diarrhoeal diseases and the report that coconut water contains anti-bacterial proteins, suggests a bacteria growth inhibition potential for it. Therefore, the propensity of fresh coconut water to support the growth of two pathogenic bacteria was studied. Using mostly optical density measurement, and where possible, growth parameters and bacteria loads were estimated for the growth of two gram negative bacteria in fresh, stored and sterilized coconut water, and also in Luria-Bertani (LB) broth as a control. The study revealed that fresh coconut water is a drink favourable for the survival and growth of Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. It supported the growth of these bacteria recording lag times of 101.4 ± 1.00 minutes for E. coli and 154.8 ± 0.45 minutes for K. pneumoniae, and high loads of viable cells of ~ 2.27 × 108 cfu/mL and > 2.83 × 108 cfu/mL at the stationary phase for E. coli and K. pneumoniae respectively. These and other growth parameters in coconut water were comparable to those in Luria-Bertani (LB) broth medium. However, when autoclaved, gamma irradiated or stored at 4℃ for two weeks or more, the growth of these bacteria becomes extremely limited. Fresh coconut water will support the growth of these bacteria to high and infective load of viable cell if it becomes contaminated with and is kept at ambient temperatures for two or more hours. Thus, it will be safer to consume coconut water directly from the fruit, since there is a high risk for bacteria contamination associated with the transfer and storage in other containers.

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A. Awua, E. Doe and R. Agyare, "Potential Bacterial Health Risk Posed to Consumers of Fresh Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) Water," Food and Nutrition Sciences, Vol. 3 No. 8, 2012, pp. 1136-1143. doi: 10.4236/fns.2012.38149.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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