This study assessed handling practices and microbiological contamination of salted sun-dried Nile Perch, Lates niloticus, commonly known as Kayabo in Tanzania. The processors of Kayabo were small-scale processors located at Kanyama and Mwaloni, Mwanza. Mixed methods (observations, face-to-face interviews, and microbiological sampling) were used to assess handling practices of processors and microbiological quality of Kayabo. Hierarchical cluster analysis on handling practices of Kayabo processors produced three distinct clusters of 15 (Cluster I), 10 (Cluster II), and 5 (Cluster III) processors. In general, the majority of processors had inadequate training on appropriate food handling, lack of hygienically designed facilities (building and cooling), poor sanitation, and the use of low-quality raw materials (rejects from industrial processing units). Assessment of microbiological quality of Kayabo indicated a significant (P<0.05) variation in Total Viable Counts, TVC (2.08 - 8.68 Log CFU/25 g), and Staphylococcus aureus (<1-5.49 log CFU/25 g) among the clusters. About 80% (12/15) and 42% (5/12) of the processors in 'Cluster I' exceeded the legal limits for TVC (5 Log CFU/25 g) and S. aureus (3 Log CFU/25 g), respectively. Strikingly, Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes were below the quantification limits. Intervention measures for improvement on the raw materials, structure, and infrastructure, training, and adoption of good practices across the value chain are urgently needed to ensure the quality and safety of Kayabo.
Key words: Fish, salted sundried nile perch, handling practices, microbiological quality, Kayabo, Lake Victoria.
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