Milk traders cautioned over poor standards compliance

Raymond Murenzi,  Director General of the Rwanda Standards Board. / Diane Mushimiyimana.
Raymond Murenzi, Director General of the Rwanda Standards Board. / Diane Mushimiyimana.

The Rwanda Standards Board has urged milk zones owners around Kigali City to meet total standard compliance to maintain milk quality for consumer satisfaction.

Raymond Murenzi, the Director General of the Rwanda Standards Board said that the majority of milk dealers are reluctant to invest in facilities that ensure standards, saying only a small number of practioners have embraced set standardization.

Murenzi says that their recent assessment conducted among all milk zones in the city of Kigali revealed that only 30% are able to meet all the requirements of Standards compliance.  Mainly the problems lie in storage techniques, poor hygiene, and adulteration for financial gains.

Water is the most common adulterant used, which decreases the nutritional value of milk.  Others add corn or cassava flour to maintain its thickness, which has the potential to cause serious health‐related problems. 

He argued that, these poor practices are a result of negligence or poor understating in food safety of players.

“The extent of the problem shows that milk zones owners need to be sensitized about good practices to meet standards. Today, we invited them to hear the findings and see how together we can find solutions to the identified issues before we could come up with more stringent measures.

After sometimes we will go back to see their progress and those who are found incompetent will be subject to suspension,” he argued.

The RSB study also revealed that majority of milk zones have issues of water and heating systems, hand washing facilities, protective gear, cleaning tools, pest control systems, waste disposal facilities which put the quality of milk they serve at stake. 

Murenzi added that following the  identified knowledge gap , they have a plan of organizing workshops to train milk zones owners on basic food safety requirements as well standards compliance and deploy short term qualified personnel to assist them while also encouraging them to hire permanent staff who have qualifications to minimize issues of malpractices.

On the other hand, Carine Nyilimana, animal Product Export specialist at the Ministry of Agriculture and animal Resources, says the ministry has been able to reduce issues at milk collection center levels which means that milk arrives at milk zones safe which means all the problems start there.

She says that milk zones owners have to start abiding with the requirements, each fixing what he was told is missing other than waiting for suspension.

She adds that those who choose to trade milk from informal retailers selling at lower prices compared to the one from collection centers, have to quit such practices as such informal channels contaminate milk.

“More efforts are needed to sensitize all the people working in milk value chain to make sure they get common understanding about standard compliance. The milk producers also have to understand that channeling milk through collection centres and milk processing plants, which have capacity to test the safety of milk is good for common interests,” she said.

She adds that the ministry will continue to work with all stakeholders to put efforts in sensitization drives, educating dairy sector players on guidelines concerning milk transportation, collection and trade, as well as milk standards and code of hygiene adding that those that contravene guidelines shall be apprehended and punished according to the law. She, however, says the rationale of the law is not to punish people, but to encourage them to improve.

According to the 2016 Ministerial order regulating the collection, selling and transportation of milk, any person who transports milk must use well closed stainless steel cans or an appropriate vehicle with a cooling tank that keeps the milk at a temperature that does not exceed four degrees Celsius (40oC).

The ministerial order also states that no person shall sell milk unless the milk is tested at its reception.

According to the order, milk for sale or consumption must have a density of between 1.026 and 1. o32 at 20oC, have a measure of acidity or alkalinity between 6.60 and 6.80 (PH :6.60-6.80.

 

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