The current study was designed to assess the microbial safety status of rice and chicken dishes offered for sale at various local and branded restaurants. Purposely, 24 samples of rice and chicken dishes were collected from eight local and branded restaurants of Faisalabad city. All the collected samples were subjected to microbiological examination to determine the prevalence and comparative enumeration of Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli (rice), Salmonella and Campylobacter (chicken). Results pertaining to the enumeration of B. cereus and E. coli exhibited highest count of 2.12 × 108 and 2.59 × 107 cfu/g, respectively. Both strains were found to be higher among the samples collected from branded restaurants. Likewise for chicken dishes, the highest count observed for Salmonella and Campylobacter were 2.50 × 107 and 1.87 × 108 cfu/g, respectively. Further, the results of current study revealed that 38% of rice samples collected from local restaurants and 63% from branded restaurants have unsatisfactory safety status for B. cereus. Similarly, for E. coli, 63 and 42% samples were found unsatisfactory from local and branded restaurants, respectively. On the other hand, the percentage of chicken samples with unacceptable safety status according to Salmonella and Campylobacter standards were 46 & 58% and 54 & 46% for local and branded restaurants, respectively.
Safe handling of food during preparation and adherence to the food safety principles are key factors in determining the safety of food served at any restaurant. The study focused on previously unreported microbial safety status of some commonly sold food items at local and branded restaurants. The results and suggestions of this study will help the food handlers and regulatory bodies to map out the potential gaps in food supply chain to reduce the incidence of microbial contamination in cooked food items. The study will provide guidance for the restaurant industry to improve the overall safety of cooked foods by taking the corrective measures in the light of results presented in this article.