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The Ethiopian Dairy Sector with Focus on Traditional Butter: A Review

Ethiopia is believed to have the largest cattle population in Africa. The total annual milk production from cattle has been estimated at 3.5 billion liters from 11.38 million dairy cows. As a result, cow’s milk is the focus of milk processing in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, the base of milk processing is fermented milk (Ergo) with no defined starter cultures used to initiate fermentation. The main reasons reported for the use of fermented milk as a base of processing are the small volume of milk produced per day, better shelflife of fermented milk, consumer preference and type of available milk processing materials. The success of dairy development to a large extent depends on market for the product combined with other dairy infrastructure and availability of small-scale processing facilities to manufacture high quality dairy products. In Ethiopia, only 6.6 % of the total milk produced in the country is marketed as liquid milk and the remaining 48.8 % and 44.6 % of produced milk is used for home consumption and processing, respectively. Out of the 44.6 % of milk allocated for household processing, 75 % and 25 % go to butter and Ethiopian cottage cheese production, respectively. Thus, the products could be easily transported to market place, and fetch better prices or returns. The microbiological information on traditional butter is not fully available in Ethiopia. However, the available previous research works conducted in Ethiopia revealed that the microbial count of butter is generally above the acceptable limits set for quality butter. The presence of bacteria in butter reduces the keeping quality of the product and certain bacteria with their associated enzymes and toxins may even survive high temperature and create public health hazards. The potential sources of butter microbial contamination are raw materials, air, water and equipment, which usually occur during processing, packaging and storage of finished product. Therefore, all precautions should be taken to avoid contamination of butter and public health hazards.

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