ASSESSMENT OF PHYSICOCHEMICAL PROPERTIES AND MICROBIAL CONTAMINATIONS OF LOCAL AND IMPORTED COUSCOUS
Limited studies have been carried out to investigate the physicochemical properties and microbial contaminations of couscous in Libya. The purposes of the investigation were to determine the physicochemical properties and microbial contaminations of locally manufactured couscous, traditional couscous and imported couscous. Five samples of local couscous were monthly collected from different factories. Additionally, twenty fresh samples and twenty sunlight-dried samples were collected from different regions in Tripoli, and twelve samples of imported couscous were collected too. The results of protein content in traditional dried, local and imported couscous were 11.99, 10.81, and 12.04%, respectively. Traditional wet and dried couscous recorded the highest ash content. Fiber content and acidity for all samples were in the recommended limits. The amount of lead and cadmium were in the recommended limit (0.0003 and 0.012 mg/kg, respectively). The results showed that local couscous had the highest heterotrophic bacteria, 3.03 CFU/g, then comes the traditional dried couscous 2.92 CFU/g, and finally comes the traditional wet couscous 2.88 CFU/g. Yeasts and molds found in local and traditional dried couscous exceeded the maximum limit indicated by WHO (2.99-3.18 CFU/g). The outcomes presented a greater content of molds in fine semolina compared to coarse semolina. Most of the measured properties of the studied samples are in the recommended limits, however, more heather condition are needed during couscous production.