In Tanzania, pastoralists such as the Maasai and small urban farmers are responsible for the country's milk production, and 95% of the national milk supply is sold without regulation. This study was conducted using hygiene checklists and milk sampling to investigate milk quality and safety at various steps throughout the milk production chain. In regions of Dar es Salaam and Lake Victoria, 196 milk samples were collected: 109 samples of raw milk, 41 samples of packed or open served heat-treated products, and 46 samples of fermented products. Samples were taken from (i) the production level (pastoralists and urban farmers), (ii) the collection level (middlemen and depots), (iii) processors (dairies), and (iv) retailers (kiosks). Samples were analyzed for hygiene criteria (total bacteria, total coliforms, Escherichia coli, and coagulase-positive staphylococci) and foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes. Adequate heating of milk for drinking was determined via heat labile alkaline phosphatase and lactoperoxidase analysis. Total bacterial counts indicated that only 67% (73 of 109) of raw milk samples and 46% (19 of 41) of heat-treated samples met national Tanzanian standards. Bulk milk samples taken from the traditional milking vessels of Maasai pastoralists had the lowest total bacterial counts: ≥1 × 102 CFU/ml. Foodborne pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella were isolated from 10.1% (11 of 109) of raw milk samples but were not detected in heat-treated or fermented products, and 83% of heat-treated milk samples were lactoperoxidase negative, indicating overpasteurization. Coliforms were detected in 41% (17 of 41) of processed milk samples, thus indicating a high rate of recontamination. A progressive decrease in microbial quality along the milk production chain was attributed to departures from traditional methods, inadequate milk containers, long transport distances, lack of cooling, and lack of a basic understanding of hygiene.

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