Assessment of hygienic conditions of ground pepper (<i>Piper nigrum</i> L.) on the market in São Paulo city, by means of two methodologies for detecting the light filth
AbstractPepper should to be collected, processed, and packed under optimum conditions to avoid the presence of foreign matter. The hygienic conditions of ground pepper marketted in São Paulo city were assessed in determining the presence of foreign matter by means of two extraction methodologies. This study was carried out during a six-month time period from May to September 2006. The occurrence of light impurities was determined either by the flotation technique following the methodology recommended by AOAC or by enzyme – linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). It was observed that 100% of the examined samples contained insect fragments, and many samples were housing more than one type of foreign matter. Twentytwo percent of samples were unqualified for consumption owing to the occurrence of rodent hairs. For the calibration of ELISA test for quantification of insect contamination level in pepper samples, a range of standard-infested samples was prepared in adding 1, 2, 4, 8 and 10 insects in a control sample to estimate the number of insects in the analyzed samples by measuring optical densities (OD) values with a spectrophotometer. Among the 22 samples, 36.4% of samples presented OD values close to that corresponding to the standard infested with eight insects, 40.9% of samples were comparable to OD of the standard infested with four insects, 18.2% comparable to standard with 10 insects, and 4.5% to the standard with two insects. According to the results observed in the present study, the technique described in AOAC official methods manual was found more suitable for detecting not only the insects but also the additional impurities in analyzed samples, while ELISA is specific to detect myosin from the insect muscle, which undergoes serious degradation with time.
Keywords: Pepper, ELISA test , Light filth, AOAC official method.
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