Milk processors have stepped up efforts to assist dairy farmers produce quality and safe raw milk that complies with regulatory and food safety requirements.
The requirements include physical, chemical and microbiological specifications for raw milk as provided by relevant Kenyan standards. Processors are keen to continue supplying the market with high quality dairy products.
For instance, presence of antibiotic residues in milk has dropped considerably over the past six years after processors put in place stringent food safety practices along the dairy value chain.
Brookside Dairy, with an installed processing capacity of 1.5 million litres of milk per day, says investment in training on clean milk production by its 160,000 farmers countrywide had borne fruit, with a marked reduction in cases of rejections of milk due to poor quality.
“Fortunately for us, all our contracted farmers are aware that we undertake testing for antibiotics, for all milk delivered to us. All our collection points have been carrying out these tests religiously, over time,” John Gethi, Brookside’s director of milk procurement and manufacturing said in an interview, yesterday.
A quality assurance framework prepared by industry regulator Kenya Dairy Board two years ago envisages the implementation of hygienic milk production practices, along the entire dairy value chain.
Every so often, farmers administer considerable amounts of antibiotics to control disease in dairy cattle, and sometimes as a consequence of not adhering to the milk withdrawal period, residues find their way into the milk.
“Antibiotic residues in milk expose consumers to direct undesirable effects, besides the possibility of allergic reactions to the drug residues,” Gethi said.
In Kajiado, Beatrice Nkonene, who supplies her raw milk to Brookside through Enkipai Dairy Group, says training on clean milk production had seen her supply antibiotic free milk for four straight years.
“In the past, most of our group members failed to observe minimum withdrawal periods from milking after administration of antibiotics on cows. However, after training, we have reduced losses occasioned by our milk being rejected due to antibiotic presence,” Ms Nkonene said.
According to Gethi, improved milk quality at the farm level, has had a beneficial knock-on effect along the dairy value chain.
“There has been a marked increase in the volumes of raw milk that meet these stringent quality standards,” Gethi said.