Kenya’s largest milk processor, Brookside Dairy on Friday called for stern action against unscrupulous traders who use chemicals to prolong milk life.
Brookside Dairy’s Milk Procurement Director John Gethi said such traders should be heavily punished for giving Kenyan milk a bad name in the regional markets.
“They sabotage our national economy by contaminating milk and endangering the livelihoods of smallholder farmers,” he said.
Mr Gethi urged Kenyans to consume processed milk which he said is safe and wholesome. He said processors are bound by regulations set by the Kenya Bureau of Standards to protect consumers by upholding high quality.
“The informal market poses a serious health risk that must be dealt with to enable the dairy subsector to thrive. We insist that our 145,000 suppliers from across Kenya must observe hygiene from the farm to our cooling plants,” he added.
Mr Gethi said Brookside paid Sh10 billion directly to farmers in 2015. He added that ongoing dairy herd and fodder improvement projects co-funded by Brookside and the government are bearing fruit as farmers have increased production.
He said farmers’ groups are also being trained on better animal husbandry with greater emphasis on youths to take up dairy farming as a commercial enterprise.
GOOD QUALITY PRODUCTS
“Good quality dairy products can never be made from poor quality milk. Clean milk production at the farm and safe handling during transportation and processing are the foundation of good quality products,” Mr Gethi said.
The director spoke, hardly days after 144 people were taken ill after they reportedly drank contaminated milk in Nakuru.
He said multi-billion investments made by dairy processors and farmers as well as ongoing activities funded by the government must be well taken care of to ensure Kenya continues holding the top position in Africa in dairy farming.
“People come to us for benchmarking and any attempt to contaminate milk will affect our regional reputation as a dairy powerhouse,” he said.
Brookside processes a wide range of products from fresh, long life, fermented, cream and powdered milk. It also produces dairy products such as ghee and whipping cream.
It currently commands a 45 per cent share of the national raw milk market and recently sold 40per cent of its stake to French firm Danone signalling its intention to go beyond the East African Community where it boasts of subsidiaries in Tanzania and Uganda.
The processor said it is working with equipment manufacturers to ensure that famers invest in food-grade aluminium containers and overall farm hygiene.