In Tanzania, a small-scale salt enterprise supplies salt which is mainly consumed within the country. However, the producers often lack appropriate production knowledge. The purpose of this study was to assess salt processing and handling practices at Nkonkilangi village in Singida region, Tanzania. A cross-sectional study design was used to collect data. Scheduled interviews with 63 out of 100 producers were conducted using semi-structured questions. The producers were exclusively women (100%) with primary school education (98%) and aged from 20 to 60 years (90.5%). Although 33.3% of the producers attended food processing and hygiene training, none used improved methods. The traditional method used involved mixing three soil types locally known as Nkuluse, Mbuga and Sepa, or Nkoko in the ratio of 1:1:1 (v/v/v). Brine is obtained by leaching the soil with water in perforated clay pots. Majority (63.5%) of the producers boil brine for 1 - 2 h for salt recovery, up to 5 batches per day. Three buckets of brine yield 1 bucket of salt. Two-thirds of the producers clean equipment and containers without detergents. More than 84% of the salt producers identified sand as major contaminant, whereas 47.6% of the processers use pieces of plastics and broken guards to stir salt during cooking. The salt is conditioned and packed for delivery. Despite the fact that salt fortification is mandatory in the country, none of the processers fortified the salt with iodine. Majority were neither aware of the nutritional benefits of fortification (90.5%) nor of the legal implications of selling non-iodized salt (79.4%). Therefore, proper control and monitoring of small-scale mining in Tanzania is essential for assuring quality and safety of salt.
Key words: Salt, salt quality, iodized, salt mining, contaminants, soil, plastic, Nkonkilangi.
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