Fermented cassava mash (lafun) is an important staple in southwestern Nigeria. It is usually prepared by traditional method that routinely results in its contamination due to direct exposure to environmental pollutants. Therefore, investigation was made to evaluate the microbial, heavy metal and other metallic contaminants in lafun samples collected from Malete and Ore of Moro local government area of Kwara State. Wet and dried lafun samples were collected from roadside-sundrying practitioners and packaged in airtight polyethylene bags for analyses using standard procedures. Wet lafun samples were oven-dried in the laboratory and used as control. The microbial counts obtained indicated that the two lafun samples were microbiologically loaded and their consumption may pose health risks if not properly controlled. In addition, preliminary field and laboratory data were collected on the effect of insect pest infestation on the lafun samples. Results also revealed that Malete and Ore roadside-sundried lafun samples contained Cu (0.009 and 0.011), Zn (0.180 and 0.208), Pb (0.246 and 0.076), Fe (1.299 and 1.112) and Ni (0.001 and 0.002) ppm respectively while Cd was absent. Meanwhile, effect of insect infestation on these samples will be reported subsequently. However, roadside-sundrying of foodstuffs should be discouraged and adoption of a raised platform that will be erected away from highway is recommended.
Keywords: Lafun; heavy metals; Total Viable Count; metallic pollutants.