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The aim of this study was to assess the microbiological quality of Ghanaian bottled and plastic-bagged drinking water sold on the streets of Metropolitan Kumasi, Ghana.Eight bottled, 88 factory-filled plastic sachet and 40 hand-filled hand-tied polythene-bagged drinking waters were examined for the presence of heterotrophic bacteria total viable counts (TVCs), indicators of faecal contamination (total coliforms, faecal coliforms and enterococci) and for lead, manganese and iron. Heterotrophic bacteria were found in all three types of water with TVCs per millilitre ranging from 1 to 460 for bottled water, 2–6·33 × 105 for factory-bagged sachet water and 2·33 × 103–7·33 × 1012 for hand-filled hand-tied bagged water. None of the microbial indicators of faecal contamination were detected in bottled water, whereas 4·5% of the factory-bagged sachets contained total coliforms and 2·3% faecal coliforms, and 42·5% of the hand-filled hand-tied bags contained total coliforms, 22·5% faecal coliforms and 5% enterococci. Iron was found in all three types of drinking water but at concentrations well within the WHO recommendations. Lead and manganese were not detected.Ghanaian bottled water is of good microbiological quality but some factory-bagged sachet and hand-filled hand-tied polythene-bagged drinking water are of doubtful quality.Factory-bagged sachets and hand-filled hand-tied bags of drinking water sold in Ghana should be monitored for microbiological contamination, with the aim of raising standards in the industry and re-assuring the public.