Using low technology to improve the safety of informal-vended Brukina– a fermented milk and millet smoothie in Ghana
Brukina, a fermented milk, and millet smoothie, is a popular indigenous beverage in Ghana. Its production is dominated within the Northern regions of Ghana. Brukina is considered as a complete meal due to its high nutrient and energy density. There are, however, quality and safety gaps associated with the traditional production of brukina which limits patronage, shelf-life and nutritional benefits. This study evaluated the microbiological quality at selected brukina production steps and the retailed brukina drink. Samples were taken along the production chain from four major traditional brukina producers within the Greater Accra region and analysed for the total viable count, total coliforms, Staphylococcus aureus, yeasts and moulds, and pH. The mean microbial concentrations for traditionally produced and marketed products were 7.48 Log CFU/mL for total viable counts, 2.91 Log CFU/mL for total coliforms, 4.68 Log CFU/mL for S. aureus and 5.25 Log CFU/mL for yeasts and moulds. Mean pH of the finished product on the market was 4.35. The microbial counts along the production chain were generally high, revealing poor hygienic handling and need for process optimization. Data generated from microbiological analyses of commercial brukina, food safety audits from previous studies and CODEX code of hygienic practices were used as guidelines to optimize the traditional process operations and develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for hygienic production of traditional brukina. Implementation of the SOP in a controlled environment reduced the total count by 4.28 Log CFU/mL at P=0.000 and total coliforms by 3.63 Log CFU/mL at P=0.035 at all the tested production steps. The optimized brukina had a mean total count of 4.06 Log CFU/mL and undetectable levels of total coliforms and S. aureus. Critical control steps in traditional production operations were identified as the steaming of milled and agglomerated millet and milk pasteurization. The SOP developed provides a low technology solution to improve quality and safety of traditional brukina.
Key words: Brukina, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), microbiological quality, hygiene, dairy