Kenya’s largest dairy processor Brookside Dairy on Thursday called for stern action against unscrupulous milk traders who use chemicals to prolong milk life.
The firm's milk procurement director John Gethi said such traders should be severely punished as they give Kenyan milk a bad name in the regional markets.
“They sabotage our national economy by contaminating milk and hence endangering the lives of the smallholder farmers who rely on the milk sales for their livelihoods,” he said.
Mr Gethi welcomed the government’s crackdown on unsafe milk and urged Kenyans to consume processed milk which he termed as safer and wholesome adding all milk processors were bound by set standards regulated by the Kenya Bureau of Standards as a way of protecting lives of consumers.
“The informal market poses a serious health risk that must be dealt with to enable the dairy subsector to thrive and we insist that our 145,000 milk suppliers from across Kenya must observe hygiene from the farm to our cooling plants,” he added.
Mr Gethi, who said Sh10 billion was directly paid to milk farmers in 2015, added that ongoing dairy herd and fodder improvement projects co-funded by Brookside and the government was bearing fruit where farmers in dairy societies were now realising higher milk production.
He said farmer groups were also being trained on better animal husbandry with greater emphasis on youths to take up dairy farming as a commercial enterprise.
“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,” he said.
Mr Gethi spoke 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 ruthlessly guarded 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.
The firm currently commands a 45 per cent share of the national raw milk market and recently sold 40 per cent of its stake to French firm Danone signalling its intention to go beyond East Africa.