The study attempts to identify the potential routes of bacterial infection via consumption of raw vegetables, drinking water and vegetable-related water in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Vegetables in the markets and restaurants had higher total coliforms and E. coli counts than the vegetables at the vegetable cultivation fields. In search of the potential contamination sources, it was found that vegetables are washed in nearby canals after harvesting. Those canals are contaminated with human and animal excreta, which in turn may contaminate the vegetables. At the markets, although the tap water was found to be free of microbes, contaminated and non-contaminated vegetables are mixed and washed in the same bowl, which may bring about further spreading of infectious bacteria. The results of this study suggested that an integrated countermeasure that incorporates reducing microbial contamination of canals, raising the awareness of microbial infection among the local farmers and wholesalers, and providing enough clean water to the food markets should be implemented to reduce the incidence of food-borne illness in HCMC.

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