The microbial contamination level profiles (MCLPs) attributed to contamination of beef carcasses, personnel, and equipment in five Kenyan small and medium enterprise slaughterhouses were determined. Aerobic plate counts, Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococcus, and Salmonella were used to determine contamination at four different slaughter stages, namely, dehiding, evisceration, splitting, and dispatch. Microbiological criteria of the four microorganisms were used to score contamination levels (CLs) as poor (0), poor to average (1), average (2), or good (3). MCLPs were further assigned to carcasses, personnel, and equipment at each stage by summing up the CL scores. The CL score attributed to aerobic plate count contamination was 2 or 3 for carcasses but 0 for personnel and equipment in almost all slaughterhouses. A score of 0 on carcasses was mostly attributed to Enterobacteriaceae at evisceration and to Salmonella at dehiding and evisceration. In addition, a score of 0 was mostly attributed to Staphylococcus contamination of personnel at dehiding. A score of 3 was attributed mostly to Enterobacteriaceae on hands at splitting, whereas a score of 2 was mostly attributed to the clothes at dehiding and evisceration. A CL score of 3 was mostly attributed to Enterobacteriaceae and Salmonella contamination of equipment at dehiding and splitting, respectively. Although CLs attributed to contamination of carcasses, personnel, and equipment ranged from 0 to 3, the maximum MCLP score of 9 was only attained in carcasses from two slaughterhouses at dehiding and from one slaughterhouse at dispatch. There is, therefore, a lot of room for small and medium enterprise slaughterhouses to improve their food safety objectives by improving food safety management systems at the points characterized by low CL scores.
- Small and medium enterprise