Contribution of Farm Level Hygiene and Handling Practices to Microbial Safety Profiles in the Informal Dairy Sector in Zimbabwe

S. Chimuti, D.T. Mugadza*, V. Ntuli, P.K.M. Njage

*Corresponding author for this work

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The current study assessed (i) the microbiological safety level profiles (MSLPs) of milkmen's hands and milking containers and (ii) the influence of hygiene and handling practices on MSLPs of raw and cultured milk, from six informal dairy farms in Zimbabwe. Interviews and direct observations were carried out during the assessment of hygiene and handling practices at six farms designated A to F. Microbiological criteria of the following six microbiological parameters: Total Bacterial Counts (TBC), Coliform Counts (CC), Total E. coli Counts (TEC), Salmonella spp, Listeria monocytogenes and Klebsiella pneumonia, were used to determine contamination level (CLs) at four different critical sampling locations (CSLs). The CSLs were raw milk (CSL1), cultured milk (CSL2), milkmen's hands (CSL3), and milking containers (CSL4). The microbiological criteria of the six microbiological parameters were used to score CLs as: intolerable (0), poor to average (1), average (2), and good (3). MSLPs at each CSL for the six farms were computed based on the CL scores to a maximum score of 18. A total of 192 samples were collected and analyzed. Salmonella spp and L. monocytogenes were not detected at all the CSLs. All the farms failed to achieve a maximum MSLP score of 18 at all the CSLs. The relationship between MSLPs and hygiene and handling practices was tested using point-biserial correlation coefficients. The correlation study revealed that handling and hygiene practices (such as the duration between milking and storage, the type of milking container utilized at farms, the frequency of cleaning the milking parlor, the water source for hand and equipment washing, and the use of hand sanitizers) generally influenced the MSLPs on the farms. Both training and improvement in infrastructure are needed to improve the quality of milk and its products produced and sold in the informal value chain in Zimbabwe.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100313
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Microbiological criteria
  • Hygiene practices
  • Dairy farms
  • Handling practices
  • Milk quality


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