Volume 59, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Street-vended foods and beverages, an integral part of urban economies in the developing world, have been implicated in cholera transmission in Latin America. To improve the microbiologic quality of market-vended beverages in Guatemala, we tested a simple system consisting of dilute bleach (4.95% free available chlorine) for water purification, narrow-mouth plastic vessels with spigots for disinfecting and storing water and for preparing and storing beverages, handwashing soap, and education in using the system. We conducted a randomized controlled intervention trial among 41 vendors who received the intervention and 42 control vendors, comparing total and fecal coliform bacteria and Escherichia coli contamination of market-vended beverages, stored water, and vendors' hands. Samples were obtained at baseline and at each of six weekly follow-up visits. At baseline, fecal coliform bacteria were found in 40 (48%) market-vended beverages and E. coli in 14 (17%). When compared with samples from control vendors, a significant decrease in total coliform (P < 0.001) and fecal coliform (P < 0.001) bacteria in samples of stored water and beverages sold by intervention vendors was observed over the course of the study. The vessel system was well accepted by vendors. This simple inexpensive system consisting of hypochlorite disinfectant, plastic vessels, soap, and education can significantly reduce fecal contamination of market-vended beverages.


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