Contaminating organisms in the milk produced by the small-scale farmer, South Africa


Ernie F. A.

Milking practices have improved with the development of technology and have transformed both small and large-scale production methods, however, some producers in rural and peri-urban areas have not adopted these new methods and hand milking is still the most frequently used method. This study was conducted in a typical South African peri-urban area, where the state of environmental health is still developing. The objectives were to determine the presence of contaminating organisms in the milk produced by the small-scale farmer as well as to make suggestions regarding the improvement of the milk quality to these farmers. By considering the total viable counts, coliforms and Escherichia coli, it was evident that undesirably high numbers of micro-organisms were ubiquitous, exceeding the SANS by far. Results furthermore indicate that the counts of the coliforms and E. coli also differed significantly during the summer and winter months. The high presence of E. coli found in the milk samples points to the fact that faecal contamination was unavoidable and unnoticed cow illnesses are likely to be one of the causes of the alarmingly high microbial counts. Traditional practices are likely to contribute to the contamination of the milk and proliferation of the micro-organisms.

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