Knowledge and practices of food hygiene and safety among camel milk handlers in the pastoral camel value chain in Kenya
Camel milk contributes up to 30% of pastoral community annual caloric intake making it one of the main diets for the pastoral community. In addition, camel milk is a major source of income and serves significant cultural functions in pastoral communities. Despite these, camel milk production and marketing is faced with a number of challenges, especially poor handling practices that contribute to high post-harvest losses due to poor quality and safety. Poor handling practices have been reported to be associated with poor knowledge and practices of food hygiene and safety among the pastoral camel milk value chain actors. The study aimed at determining the level of food hygiene and safety knowledge and practices of camel milk value chain actors. A structured questionnaire, focus group discussions and key informant interviews were used to collect data on hygienic milk handling knowledge and practices along the camel milk value chain. Each point along the chain showed a significant difference (p<0.05) in knowledge in food safety and hygiene. The study established that herdsmen had significantly (p<0.05) lower knowledge than women retailing and collecting/ bulking milk at Isiolo town and its environs with a mean score of 49 ± 9%. The women retailing at Isiolo town scored 62 ± 9% of the food hygiene and safety questions correctly. The women at the collection/bulking centre had the highest knowledge level with a score of 69 ± 10%. The average score along Isiolo camel milk value chain was 60 ± 9%. The respondents showed low knowledge in answering questions regarding spoilage microorganisms and effective cleaning of containers. About 53% of women retailers used rejected/spoiled milk for household consumption. This could result in a high food safety risk. Therefore, training of actors along the camel milk value chain could be the best way to improving their knowledge on food safety and hygiene.
Key words: Knowledge, food safety, food hygiene, milk handlers, container cleaning
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