Asian Journal of Dairy and Food Research, volume 41 issue 3 (september 2022) : 264-271

Quality of Fresh Camel Meat (Camelus dromedarius) Sold at Retail Houses in Bechar City (Southwest of Algeria): Physicochemical and Hygienic Approaches

E. Benyagoub1,2,*, M. Ahmed Lali1, N. Lamari1
1Department of Biology, Faculty of Life and Natural Sciences, Mohammed TAHRI University of Bechar (08000), Bechar, Algeria.
2Archipel Laboratory, MT University of Bechar, Algeria.
Cite article:- Benyagoub E., Lali Ahmed M., Lamari N. (2022). Quality of Fresh Camel Meat (Camelus dromedarius) Sold at Retail Houses in Bechar City (Southwest of Algeria): Physicochemical and Hygienic Approaches . Asian Journal of Dairy and Food Research. 41(3): 264-271. doi: 10.18805/ajdfr.DRF-262.
Background: Meat is the first source of animal protein, its richness in essential amino acids classifies it among the noble proteins. However, due to its nutritional qualities, meat constitutes a favorable ground for microbial development and can serve as a source of foodborne pathogens for consumers. Hence this study aimed to evaluate the hygienic quality of fresh camel meat marketed in Bechar city (Southwest of Algeria). 

Methods: At the butcher’s shops in the Bechar El Djadid’s market, the taken samples underwent analyzes of a few physicochemical and microbiological parameters. The suspected pathogenic isolates were confirmed using biochemical tests.

Result: The physicochemical parameters results showed that the samples had slightly acidic pH values ranging from 5.25 to 5.86, the temperature from 6 to 7.5°C and the total solid content (TSC) ranging from 21 to 36.6% with a moisture rate ranging from 63.4 to 75.6. However, the obtained microbiological results showed a load of Escherichia coli of 3.3 and 4.83 Log10 CFU/g for the samples S1 and S2, respectively, exceeding the threshold set by national standards. The analyzed samples had a load of S. aureus (CoPS) ranging from 3.78 to 5 Log10 CFU/g, with the presence of Salmonella choleraesuis ssp arizonae for the sample (S1), while both Listeria monocytogenes and Pseudomonas spp species were absent in all the analyzed samples. The lactic acid bacteria (LAB) load ranged from 2.36 to 2.74 Log10 CFU/g. In conclusion, four out of five analyzed samples had an unsatisfactory quality. This is the result of a lack of hygiene in one of the links in the raw material supply chain, from the slaughterhouse to the retailer, whose stakeholders must ensure cleanliness and compliance with good hygiene practices (GHP) to protect consumers against microbial risks.
Although representing less than 1% of the red meat market, camel meat is the subject of growing interest among pastoralists and consumers in arid and semi-arid countries, both from an economic and a dietary point of view (Faye et al., 2013; Sadoud et al., 2019), where the climate negatively affects the production efficiency of other domestic livestock (Fallah et al., 2008; Suliman et al., 2020). In arid areas, there are pastures made from grass species of Aristida pungens and Panicum turgidum and fodder shrubs such as the many acacias. It is the camel breeding area par excellence, which occupies a preponderant place in the agricultural and social life of local populations (NEPAD-CAADP, 2006).
During the (2007-2017) decade, the Algerian camel herd increased from 286,670 heads in 2007 to 381,882 heads in 2017 (Sadoud et al., 2019), a breeding potential confined to three main zones of reproduction (East, South-West and South) and distributed over 17 provinces where a rate of 83% is confined to eight (8) Saharan provinces: Tamanrasset, Adrar, Tindouf, El-Oued, Ouargla, Illizi, Ghardaia and Bechar (DESA, 2003; Senoussi et al., 2017; Benyagoub, 2019). The western part of Algeria is known for its important distribution of the Rguibi breed which was originally reared by the Reguibat tribe (Cherifi et al., 2017). The increase in the number of camels heads is the result of several camel breeding development programs set up by the Algerian state. Camel breeding only experienced a considerable boost starting from 2000, following the promulgation by the Ministry of Agriculture of the birth premium, which is a kind of financial assistance granted to herders for any birth of a new camel (Bedda, 2014; Sadoud et al., 2019). This policy has contributed to the supply of the local market with a significant quantity of camel meat exceeding 5400 tons (FAO, 2013), where the carcass of the male dromedary can weigh 400 kg or more, the female camel can weigh from 250 to 350 kg (Knoess, 1977; Yousif and Babiker, 1989). Due to its nutritional value and socio-economical importance, camel meat is considered a functional food, a good source of minerals, vitamins and bioactive compounds (Suliman et al., 2020) making it an essential supply for a balanced food intake. Therefore, its hygiene is essential for public health, as the consumption of poor quality meats can lead to foodborne illness (Yehia et al., 2021). Meat constitutes a favorable ground for microbial development, mainly proteolytic bacteria which lead to harmful changes in organoleptic properties: smell, color, texture and produce toxic substances (Fguiri et al., 2021). Most bacteria grow quickly in fresh, non-acidic foods like meat, fish and vegetables, causing them to spoil. Others form spores which make them resistant to preservation techniques and resume their multiplication upon return to favorable conditions (De Reynal and Multon, 2009).
It is in this context that the present study takes place, aiming to analyze the physicochemical and the microbiological quality of some samples of fresh camel meat, from the Rguibi camel breed, marketed in the Bechar El Djadid market, a site known for its strong marketing of this product, in order to estimate the hygienic quality of the product at the level of the retail houses in Bechar city.
The reagents and culture media used in this study consist of ingredients of uniform grade and chemicals of analytical grade or the highest purity available. The various analyzes were carried out at Mohammed TAHRI University of Bechar (Algeria) for two months from April 1st, 2021.
The camel meat samples to be analyzed were purchased from the Bechar El Djadid market. The latter is experiencing strong marketing of this product (Table 1).

Table 1: Sampling frequency and dates for collection of camel meat.

After the purchase, the sample was put in a refrigeration system (an isothermal cooler) and sent as quickly as possible to the laboratory for its analysis.
Microbiological analysis
The microbiological analyzes were carried out according to the standards established by the American Public Health Association (APHA) (Salfinger and Tortorello, 2015).
Stock solution and decimal dilution
The prepared stock solution was in the order of 10-1 with physiological water (0.9%) as the diluent (JORA n.38, 2014). Homogenization of the sample was held in a stomacher sterile blending bag, using a homogenizer (Seward stomacher 400 circulator, England) for 8-10 min (Fig 1).

Fig 1: Camel meat sample in Stomacher bag.

National regulations (JORA n.39, 2017) require that the sample must be composed of five units to have a representative one (sampling plan n=5). From the stock solution, a series of decimal dilutions were prepared (up to the 10-5 dilution) with the same diluent.
Microbial parameters analyzed
According to national regulations (JORA n.39, 2017), the microorganisms to be searched belong to the following bacterial groups: Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas sp and Salmonella sp. In addition to these three bacterial parameters, we also analyzed the following parameters: Total Aerobic Mesophilic Flora (TAMF), Coagulase Positive Staphylococci (CoPS), Listeria monocytogenes, sulfite reducing Clostridia, yeasts and molds.
 Search and enumeration of the microbial parameters mentioned above were carried out as follows:
- Search and enumeration of the total aerobic mesophilic flora were carried out by the pour plate technique on PCA (Plate Count Agar). The Petri dishes were incubated at 22  and 30°C for 72 hours.
- The total coliforms (TC) and thermotolerant or Fecal Coliforms FC (Escherichia coli) were isolated by the pour  plate technique on MacConkey agar medium. The Petri dishes were incubated at 30 and 44oC for 24 to 48 hours.
- Search and enumeration of spores of sulfite reducing Clostridia (SRC) by the pour plate technique on Meat-Liver Sulfite Iron Agar in a tube after having exposed the stock solution to heat-shock at 80°C for 10 minutes. The tubes were incubated under anaerobic conditions at 46°C for 24 hours.
- Search and enumeration of Pseudomonas spp by spread  plate technique on cetrimide agar. The Petri dishes were incubated at 37°C for 24 hours.
- Staphylococci were isolated using the spread plate technique on Baird-Parker agar medium. The petri dishes were incubated at 37°C for 24 hours.
- Search for Listeria monocytogenes was carried out in three stages:
Primary enrichment on half Frase broth, then secondary enrichment on Fraser broth and thirdly, isolation on PALCAM Listeria agar. The Petri dishes were incubated at 37°C for 24 hours.
-   Search for Salmonella sp was carried out in three stages (NF V08-052, 1993):
A pre-enrichment on Buffered Peptone Water (BPW), then, a selective enrichment on Vassiliadis broth (RV) and Selenite Cystine broth (SC) and finally,isolation on Hektoen agar and Salmonella Shigella agar.     
The Petri dishes were incubated at 37°C for 24 hours.
- Search and enumeration of yeasts and molds (Fungal Flora‘FF’) were carried out by spread plate technique on Potato Dextrose Agar supplemented with lactic acid. The Petri dishes were incubated at 25°C for 3 to 5 days.
- Search and enumeration of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) were carried out by the pour plate technique (double layer) on MRS (De Man, Rogosa and Sharpe) agar medium incubated at 30°C for 72 hours.
Identification of isolates
The suspected pathogenic isolates namely Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella spp, Listeria monocytogenes underwent biochemical tests, mainly: Coagulase test, catalase test, urease test, oxidase test and esculin hydrolysis test (Tille, 2018, Benyagoub et al., 2018a).
Physicochemical analysis
The physicochemical analysis was limited by four parameters namely: pH measurement, temperature, determination of total solid content and moisture rate, carried out as follows:
- The pH was measured using a multi-parameter pH meter  (Adwa AD 1040, Romania) (JORA n.23, 2006). The device was calibrated first.
- The temperature (T°C) of the samples was measured using an electronic thermometer.
- The total solids content (TSC) is the group of all substances which do not volatilize under specific physical conditions.          
Moisture content (M%) was measured using the evaporation method of a mass of meat of 10 g at 105°C for 2 to 3 hours. The process was repeated until the weight of the meat sample stabilized. The moisture content was expressed in  (%) and calculated according to the following formula:
m1 and m2 are the masses in (g) of the sample before and after drying, respectively. 
Thus, the total solids content (TSC) was calculated by the following formula (JORA n.01, 2006):
TSC (%) = (100 - M)
M (%): Moisture content in (%).
Interpretation of microbiological analysis
The hygienic quality of the analyzed samples was judged based on the m and M contamination limits (m and M) given by the official journal (JORA n.39, 2017). Microbial parameter results were expressed as Log10 CFU/g and graphical presentations were plotted as a curve using Origin 2018 software.
Microbiological analysis
The microbiological analysis results of camel meat samples are shown in Fig 2, 3 and 4. Fig 2 shows the load of total aerobic mesophilic flora (TAMF) and fungal flora (FF) which ranged from 3.87 to 6.48 Log10 CFU/g and 3.41 to 4.58 Log10 CFU/g, respectively. The lactic acid bacteria (LAB) load ranged from 2.36 to 2.74 Log10 CFU/g. Samples 2 and 3 were the most loaded among the analyzed samples.

Fig 2: Total flora load of camel meat samples.


Fig 3: Bacterial contaminants load (fecal and soil origin) of camel meat samples.


Fig 4: Pathogenic bacteria load of camel meat samples.

Fig 3 shows the bacterial contaminants load (spores of sulfite reducing Clostridia and coliforms) which ranged from 3.78 to 5.11 Log10 CFU/g for total coliforms, while samples 1 and 2 had a fecal coliforms load of 3.3 and 4.83 Log10 CFU/g, respectively. However, Escherichia coli was absent for the samples S4, S4 and S5. Sample S3 experienced soil contamination by spores of sulfite reducing Clostridia with a load of 1.6 Log10 CFU/g.
Fig 4 shows the bacterial pathogenic bacteria load, where the analyzed samples had a CoPS load ranging from 3.78 to 5 Log10 CFU/g exceeding national regulations, with the presence of Salmonella choleraesuis ssp arizonae, only in the sample (S1) and the absence of Listeria monocytogenes and Pseudomonas spp in all the analyzed samples.
Except for the S. aureus species isolated on the Baird-Parker agar medium and the Escherichia coli species isolated on the MacConkey medium, the identification results of the strains isolated during the search for pathogenic bacteria are given in Table 2 and Fig 5 below.

Table 2: Identification of presumed pathogenic bacteria contained in 25 g of camel meat.

Physicochemical analysis
The physicochemical analysis results of camel meat are presented in Fig 6.
According to the obtained results, the analyzed samples had slightly acidic pH values between 5.25 and 5.86, temperature values ranging from 6 to 7.5°C, while, moisture (M%) and total solids content (TSC) were ranged from 63.4 to 75.6% and 21 to 36.6%, respectively.
The dromedary is of significant socio-economic importance in many arid and semi-arid regions of the world and its milk and meat constitute an important component of the human diet in these areas (Benyagoub and Ayat, 2015; Abrhaley and Leta, 2018). Camel meat is known for its nutritional and therapeutic properties, hence the importance of this study which aimed to estimate the hygienic quality of fresh camel meat sold at the market of Bechar El Djadid (Bechar, Southwest of Algeria).
According to the literature data, camel meat is considered a healthy food, it contains 64 to 78% water, 18.6 to 22.8% protein, 1.1 to 10.5% fat and 1 to 1.4% ash, with a cholesterol level lower than that of other farm animals and it is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (Fallah et al., 2008; Kadim et al., 2008; Eskandari et al., 2013). The latter is an important factor in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (avoiding atherosclerosis), controlling obesity and reducing the risk of cancer and the diseases that are often linked to the consumption of saturated fat (Abrhaley and Leta, 2018).
Besides nutritional characteristics, therapeutic properties are attributed to camel meat in many cultures around the world for cures and remedies of many ailments such as seasonal fever, sciatica, shoulder pain, asthma, freckle removal and improved performance. Compared to meats from other domestic animal species, the lower level of pollutants in camel meat’s diet is well noted (Abrhaley and Leta, 2018).
For the analyzed physicochemical parameters, the pH of the samples was slightly acidic ranging from 5.25 to 5.86.

This result was similar to the results obtained by Eskandari et al., (2013) and Touati (2017) where the pH values varied between 5.4 and 5.78 and from 5.53 to 5.67, respectively, for camel meat after 24 hours of slaughter. According to Eskandari et al., (2013), young camels had higher pH values than older ones; this may be due to lower glycogen stores in young animals. Additionally, the slower degradation of glycogen and subsequent accumulation of lactic acid in camels is attributed to their unique ability to starve for a long time (Eskandari et al., 2013).

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