Assessment of raw milk quality and stakeholders’ awareness on milk-borne health risks in Arusha city and Meru district, Tanzania

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A cross-sectional study was conducted to assess the quality of raw milk and stakeholders’ awareness on milk borne health risks and factors for poor milk hygiene in Arusha City and Meru District, Tanzania between October and December 2012. A total of 105 smallholder dairy farmers, milk vendors and milk retailers were interviewed, and milk samples were collected for physical, microbial and antibiotic residue analysis using standard procedures. Questionnaire results indicated high level of awareness (94 %) that drinking raw milk can predispose consumers to milk-borne diseases; nevertheless, 65 % of respondents consumed raw milk. Physicochemical analyses showed some of the milk had sediments (20 %), bad smell (21 %) and had clotted on alcohol test (27 %). About 36 % of milk samples had pH below 6.6, and 25 % had specific gravity below 1.028 g/ml. The mean total viable count (TVC) of milk from vendors is significantly (P<0.05) higher than that from retailers and smallholder dairy farmers. Generally, 65 % of milk samples assessed had a higher TVC than the level recommended (2.0×105 cfu/ml) by the East African Community (EAC) standards. Up to 91 % of the milk samples had bacterial growth that included Eschericia coli (66 %), Staphylococcus aureus (33 %), Corynebacterium (11 %) and Pseudomonas (10 %). All smallholder dairy farmers were aware of drug residues, but majority (57 %) were unaware of human health effects caused by veterinary drug residues in milk. Up to 97 % of respondents reported to comply with drug withdrawal periods. This possibly led to all milk samples analysed to be negative from detectable levels of antibiotic residues. It is concluded that the level of awareness on milk quality is high, although practices associated with milking and post-harvest handling predispose milk to bacterial contamination which is a public health risk to milk consumers.



Health risks, Microbial quality, Antibiotic residue, Arusha, Meru, Raw milk