Mean water quality in two wastewater-fed ponds and one non-wastewater-fed pond in Hanoi, Vietnam was ∼106 and ∼104 presumptive thermotolerant coliforms (pThC) per 100 ml, respectively. Fish (common carp, silver carp and Nile tilapia) grown in these ponds were sampled at harvest and in local retail markets. Bacteriological examination of the fish sampled at harvest from both types of pond showed that they were of very good quality (2−3 pThC g−1 fresh muscle weight), despite the skin and gut contents being very contaminated (102−103 pThC g−1 fresh weight and 104−106 pThC g−1 fresh weight, respectively). These results indicate that the WHO guideline quality of ≤1000 faecal coliforms per 100 ml of pond water in wastewater-fed aquaculture is quite restrictive and represents a safety factor of ∼3 orders of magnitude. However, when the fish from both types of pond were sampled at the point of retail sale, quality deteriorated to 102−105 pThC g−1 of chopped fresh fish (mainly flesh and skin contaminated with gut contents); this was due to the practice of the local fishmongers in descaling and chopping up the fish from both types of pond with the same knife and on the same chopping block. Fishmonger education is required to improve their hygienic practices; this should be followed by regular hygiene inspections.

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