Impacts of wet market modernization levels and hygiene practices on the microbiome and microbial safety of wooden cutting boards in hong kong

Wing Yui Ngan, Subramanya Rao, Long Chung Chan, Patrick T. Sekoai, Yang Pu, Yuan Yao, Aster Hei Yiu Fung, Olivier Habimana*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Accessing food through wet markets is a common global daily occurrence, where fresh meat can be purchased to support an urbanizing world population. Similar to the wet markets in many other metropolitan cities in Asia, Hong Kong wet markets vary and are characterized by differing hygiene routines and access to essential modern technologies. The lack of risk assessments of food contact surfaces in these markets has led to substantial gaps in food safety knowledge and information that could help improve and maintain public health. Microbial profiling analyses were conducted on cutting boards that had been used to process pork, poultry, and seafood at 11 different wet markets. The markets differed in hygiene protocols and access to modern facilities. Irrespective of whether wet markets have access of modern infrastructure, the hygiene practices were largely found to be inefficient based on the prevalence of bacterial species typically associated with foodborne pathogens such as Campylobacter fetus, Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus aureus, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus; indicator organisms such as Escherichia coli; as well as nonfoodborne pathogenic bacterial species potentially associated with nosocomial infections, such as Klebsiella pneumoniae and Enterobacter cloacae. Other Vibrio species, V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus, typically associated with contaminated raw or undercooked seafood with the potential to cause illness in humans, were also found on wooden cutting boards. This study indicated that the hygienic practices used in Hong Kong wet markets are not sufficient for preventing the establishment of spoilage or pathogenic organisms. This study serves as a basis to review current hygiene practices in wet markets and provides a framework to reassess existing safety protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1941
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Foodborne pathogens
  • Nosocomial bacteria
  • Surface hygiene
  • Wet market
  • Wooden cutting boards


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