keywords: Contaminants, Heavy metal, Permissible limit, Street vended food
There may exist some health concerns associated with the consumption of street vended foods due to contamination by heavy metals. Roadside dust and vehicular emissions have been reported to be the major sources of street vended foods contaminants in the urban areas. In the current research, six of such commonly vended and highly consumed foodstuffs within Makurdi metropolis; fried yam, roasted chicken, boiled eggs, pork, garri and akara were assessed for heavy metal contamination (Zn, Cd, Cu and Pb) using an atomic absorption spectrophotometer. From the result obtained, Lead was below detectable limit in all samples except in chicken meat where the concentration was 8.50±0.03 mg/kg and was above the recommended limit by W.H.O, EPA and FAO. Cadmium was detected above permissible limits in all the food samples, ranging from 1.30±0.03 mg/kg in roasted eggs along Wadata road to 6.90±0.00 mg/kg in garri vended along Akpehe road. Generally, the concentration of cadmium was higher in samples in from Akpehe road than in Wadata market road. Zinc had the highest concentration in all the metals, ranging from 12.50±0.02 mg/kg in roasted eggs samples from Akpehe road to 230.82±0.00 mg/kg in roasted chicken along the same road. Nickel and copper were also detected above permissible limits, ranging from 4.56±0.02 mg/kg to 15.80±0.02 mg/kg and 0.45±0.00 mg/kg to 7.50±0.03 mg/kg respectively. The variation in concentrations of these metals have been attributed to several factors, mainly vehicular traffic density and vendors’ handling of the food items. It was therefore recommended that food sold along the roadside be handled with adequate compliance to standards of hygiene to prevent contamination by heavy metals and safeguard public health.