Awareness of health risks as a result of consumption of raw milk in Arusha city and Meru district, Tanzania

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


A cross-sectional study was conducted in Arusha city and Meru District Council, Tanzania, from October to December 2012, to assess the awareness of smallholder dairy farmers, milk vendors and milk retailers to milk quality and health risks associated with raw milk consumption. A total of 105 respondents were interviewed and milk samples collected for laboratory analysis. Laboratory assessment included physical and microbial quality using standard procedures and antibiotic residues using Delvotest. Questionnaire results indicated high level of awareness that consumption of raw milk could predispose consumers to health hazards. Among the health problems specified included tuberculosis and brucellosis. Nevertheless, majority of respondents used raw unboiled soured milk as fermented milk for sale. Plastic containers were commonly used for storage and transportation of milk. Milk pH below 6.6 was 35.2% and specific gravity below 1.028 g/ml was 13.3%. Mean Total Viable Count (TVC) of milk from vendors was higher than that from retailers and smallholder dairy farmers. Generally, 64.8% of milk samples assessed had higher TVC than the maximum recommended level of 2.0 x105 cfu/ml (East Africa Community standards). Commonly isolated bacteria were Staphylococcus aureus, E.coli, Pseudomonas spp. and Corynebacterium spp. All smallholder dairy farmers were aware of drug residues in milk and 97.1% complied with drug withdrawal periods. This possibly led to all milk samples analysed to be free from antibiotic residues. It is concluded that the level of awareness to milk quality is high, although practices associated with milking and post harvest handling practices along the value chain predisposes milk to microbial contamination. It is therefore recommended that public education should be given to all stakeholders in dairy industry on milking and post harvest handling of milk to minimize the likely losses due to rejection of spoiled milk and milk-borne dangers which may occur due to consumption of contaminated milk.



Health risks, Raw milk consumption, Street milk vendors, Dairy farmers, Arusha city, Meru district, Tanzania, Smallholder dairy farmers