The Meru County government public health officials have unveiled a mop up exercise to ensure safety of milk being supplied to various markets.
The exercise is meant to ensure vendors use recommended containers when distributing fresh milk to consumers at various market points.
According to the County Executive Committee (CEC) member for Health Dr. William Muraah, milk should be carried in aluminium containers to avoid contamination.
He said some plastic containers being used to collect milk from farmers were unsafe hence exposing majority of residents who depend on unprocessed milk to diseases.
On Monday a team of public health officials confiscated and destroyed over 200 litres of fresh milk at Mwichuune area in Imenti South Sub County from a vendor carrying it in unhygienic containers.
Dr. Muraah told media in his office that the crackdown was ongoing to ensure milk dealers conform to the required public health standards.
“The practice of carrying milk in suspicious containers has become common among middlemen who collect the product from small scale farmers for distribution to markets. This compromises the quality and safety of the milk being distributed to ignorant consumers,” said the health CEC.
He cautioned against carrying milk and any other consumable liquids in plastic containers originally used for packaging chemicals.
“Not that we are against use of plastic containers but there are those prohibited for reuse for other purposes,” said Dr. Muraah.
He however said plastic containers for packaging edible products such as cooking fats were safe for collecting milk as long as they are properly cleaned.
“Blue plastic containers are restricted for poisons and dangerous chemicals. Some are even marked with danger mark,” Dr. Muraah explained.
He added that those found culpable will be arrested and prosecuted.
One milk dealer from Imenti Central Sub County has been fined for carrying 100 litres of milk in unsafe containers since the operation was launched last week.
The region’s public health department commits to working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure maximum safety of livestock products.
The public health officials intend to conduct household visits to sensitize Meru residents against the use of the restricted plastic containers being used for domestic water storage.
The CEC said the crackdown was a preventive intervention to curb against food contamination and poisoning now that the county has been recording a high number of cancer cases.
In earlier reports, the CEC said 10 percent of cancer patients referred to Kenyatta National Hospital come from Meru County.
By Richard Muhambe
Source: Kenya News Agency