August 7, 2020

Ministry of Agriculture reinforces efforts to ensure supply of safe milk and its products

Ministry of Agriculture reinforces efforts to ensure supply of safe milk and its products

The Regulatory Services Department (RSD) of the Ministry of Agriculture is reinforcing its quality and safety control activities to ensure safe supply of agricultural products, mainly milk and its products to consumers.  As per the “Legal Notice 113/ 2006: Regulations to Determine the Requirements and Standards for Milk and Milk Products Processing Plants”, regular inspection activities are carried out by RSD inspectors along with the National Animal and  Plant Health Laboratory (NAPHL) technicians to make sure that pasteurized milk and milk products  produced  from these plants have the right safety and quality standards.

According to Mr. Tesfay Yosief, Animal and Animal Products Inspection Unit Head, the RSD conducts regular inspection services on milk and milk processing  plants to gauge and monitor that their commercial products satisfy the requisite safety and quality standards thereby avoiding health risks to the public.

At this time, the production and sale of pasteurized milk to the public is carried out by three plants; namely; Asmara Milk Processing Plant (AMPP), Barka Dairy Farm Products (also located in Asmara), and the Elabered Estate Farm.

In addition to these three plants, there are 12 milk products  processing  plants, most of which are small scale, focusing mainly on yogurt production.  Some of these plants produce cheese and butter in addition to milk. The Majority of these plants are located in Maekel Region while the rest are found in Debub and Anseba Regions.

Mr. Tesfay Yosief briefed this newsletter that, before 5 years or so, yogurt production in Eritrea  was virtually non- existent.  It was imported  from Yemen, mostly through illicit means  along with other products such as eggs and
horticultural products.

Effective control methods thus induced local production which  expanded in relatively short time. RSD inspectors and NAPHL technicians  routinely carry out rigorous inspection of the new plants to ensure strict compliance with quality and safety standards.

Finally, Mr. Tesfay Yosief pointed out that, due to legal, technical and analytical limitations, other food quality factors of yogurt, such as inclusion of additives (coloring, flavor, etc) and nutrients (vitamins and minerals), are not being regulated at  the  moment. The Department  intends to apply these metrics in due time; when prevailing gaps are bridged. But this does not give green light to producers  to add any element to to his/ her production without duly informing concerned authorities, such as the RSD.

According to RSD reports, in the past six months of 2020, more than 21,800 litres of raw milk were disposed of at AMPP due to safety and quality problems.

From a safety  perspective, the consumption of milk that is not properly boiled or pasteurized is fraught with the transmission of diseases such as TB and Brucellosis. Public awareness on these problems is consequently crucial.

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