Cover Image
close this bookFOOD CHAIN No. 14 - March 1995 (ITDG, 1995, 16 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentGreetings
View the documentA mouldy old business spawns some money
View the documentTraining for the Tropics
View the documentTomato concentrate - further developments from India
View the documentSafety of street foods in Calcutta
View the documentQuality of honey for export
View the documentImproving standards of hygiene
View the documentBook Lines
View the documentQuality control and quality assurance
View the documentGhee - adding value to milk
View the documentAcknowledgments


A journal about small-scale food processing



The qualify of much processed food in many developing countries is lower than is desirable due in part to a lack of knowledge by producers Consumer pressure, however, is increasing for high quality, affordable foods. Evidence from many developing countries indicates that consumers are willing to pay for good quality foods. In addition, they are likely to remain loyal to enterprises that consistently maintain high quality in their products.

Food manufacturers who avoid adulteration and improve quality control of their processing will increase sales, provide safer and more attractive products for consumers, reduce food wastage and increase their profitability. This in turn will help secure employment and incomes for staff employed in the businesses.

Many of the technical enquiries received at ITDG from small-scale food processors and other agencies focus on the need for improved quality control, demonstrating that manufacturers are often willing to improve the quality of their products but lack the knowledge and skills to achieve this.

In the future it is likely that all countries will adopt more stringent legislation in an attempt to improve food quality, but also to erect barriers to trade, protecting local manufacturing. This will restrict opportunities for small- and medium-scale producers to export their products to neighbouring countries, unless they can demonstrate that adequate quality control procedures are being routinely followed.

In Western countries quality control procedures are increasingly automated to reduce the number and cost of operators This usually means the use of complex, expensive equipment and procedures that require trained and experienced staff to operate them - both of which are not affordable by most small- and medium-scale producers in developing countries.

It is not necessary to adopt sophisticated procedures in order to adequately control food quality By modifying and redesigning procedures it is possible to develop appropriate quality assurance (AQA) measures that will meet legislative requirements using available skills at a cost that is affordable by small- and medium-scale businesses.

Articles in future issues of Food Chain will describe practical steps that food producers can take to improve the quality of their products and the profitability of their enterprises.

Each article will focus on a quality assurance technique or procedures for control of a specific product that have a low capital investment and require skills that are within the capabilities of small-scale entrepreneurs. It is likely that some initial investment will be required and further training will almost always be needed and we will indicate, where possible, what these will involve and how they can be achieved. As in other aspects of Food Chain, we will try to give information that is as practical as we can make it, given the varying circumstances of our readership around the world. If you, our readers, have any quality assurance methods that you have found work well, we would be happy to hear from you so that the information can be shared with others.

A mouldy old business spawns some money

In this second of three articles by Dr Peter Fellows, a mould (mushroom) is described to show how it can form the basis of a viable small business.

Mushrooms (or fungi) are a prized delicacy in most countries and form an integral part of meals throughout Asia and in many African and Latin American countries. They are also a rich source of protein, minerals and vitamins. There are many hundreds of different types that are edible, and many more hundreds of types that are inedible or even poisonous. The most common types that are specially cultivated include 'button' mushrooms, oak mushrooms, and straw mushrooms, although there are many other local varieties that are collected from forests for food or as medicines.

In countries where mushrooms are collected the seasonal supply and limited distribution make them highly valued and therefore very valuable. This is a good basis for an enterprise - but one that is able to operate for only a small part of the year. Mushroom cultivation is a new idea In many countries, but the value of the product and the relatively low investment make this a potentially profitable business idea.


To grow mushrooms as a business, a support material (or substrate) is needed to provide an anchorage for the growing mushrooms, to ensure good aeration and to provide correct water holding - neither too wet nor too dry - and to provide the necessary nutrients for the mushrooms to grow well. Different varieties will grow better on some substrates than on others (Table 1).

Equipment and materials are also needed to prepare the mushroom 'spawn' (these are small fragments of a network of threads known as a mycelium). Each type of mushroom must first grow from the spawn to form a new mycelium. The actual mushrooms can be thought of as fruits that then grow from the mycelium branches. Different varieties of mushroom need specific temperatures to grow into the mycelium and then to form fruit (Table 1) and they also respond differently to light (Table 1).

Table 1: Growth of four common mushroom varieties


Typical substrate

Temperature (°C)


Growth, Fruiting

Button (or field) mushroom (Agaricus)

1) Spent brewers grains corn cobs, hay




2) Rice straw fertiliser, calcium carbonate species

3) Horse manure, brewers grains, gypsum

Straw mushroom (Volvariella species)

Used tea leaves, cotton waste, rice straw, coffee hulls, coir dust, sawdust mixed with corn meal. Each may be composted or un-composted and several substrates may be mixed




Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus species)

Cotton waste, rice straw, coir dust, sawdust mixed with corn meal. Each may be composted or un-composted

25 - 32



Oak (or shiitake) mushroom (Lentinula species)

Logs of Leucaena species or other trees, sawdust compacted into polypropylene bags



For maturation only

In countries where mushroom cultivation is new it is common for the mushroom farmers to do each stage of production themselves. In areas where production is more established the different stages of production may be done by specialised businesses - involved in only one operation - such as prepares of substrate, or spawn makers who sell on to growers.


The first stage in production is to obtain - from a mushroom laboratory or commercial supplier - a pure starter culture of the variety to be grown. Many university departments or agricultural research stations in developing countries have mushroom laboratories. Different strains of each variety will vary in their yield, and technical advice from the supplier should be sought to select the best strain. The starter is then used to prepare spawn by growing it on a pasteurized substrate (the same as that used later to grow the mushrooms).


Substrates for species including Volvariella and Pleurotus are usually based on agricultural residues such as chopped straw, sawdust, bagasse or corn cobs Rice bran (20 per cent) and 1 per cent lime may be added to adjust the acidity of the substrate. It is important that the source of substrate is close to the mushroom cultivation site to reduce costs.

A growing house made of thatch is suitable to control humidity and heat, and protect the beds from sunlight. If the growing beds are to be pasteurized a steam boiler is needed. After the beds have been prepared, steam is introduced into the growing house for about two hours until the air temperature has risen to 60-62°C. This is then maintained for another two hours and then lowered to 52°C and held at this temperature for a further eight hours. Finally the temperature is allowed to fall to about 35°C over the next 12 - 16 hours, and the bed is then ready for adding the spawn. This is added at 0.4 per cent (by weight) of the bed.

Unpasteurized substrate made from straw can be prepared by tying it into bundles, soaking overnight and piling into heaps of three or four layers with the spawn broadcast between the layers. The heap is then compacted to 30-60 cm thick. In another method, straw, cotton waste, and other substrates are soaked separately and then compacted in layers into 30 cm high x 30 cm wide x 100 cm long wooden frames, with spawn between the layers.

The technology for sawdust substrates is different. Fresh sawdust is composted by soaking it and mixing with one per cent urea and one per cent lime, then storing it in a covered heap for 30-40 days, turning it every seven days. In a shorter method 78 per cent sawdust is mixed with 20 per cent rice bran, one per cent sugar and one per cent lime and composted for seven days. The compost is then compressed into blocks or into polypropylene bags. The substrate is steamed either at 100°C for 2-3 hours or at 60-70°C for 6-8 hours, cooled, and then spawn is added.


The spawn is allowed to grow into the full mycelium. This can take 10-15 days for volvariella species, 2-4 weeks for Pleurotus and Agaricus species and 2 - 3 months for Lentinula species depending on the climate.

After full development of the mycelium, when the mould has fully penetrated the substrate, the mushrooms begin to develop first as buttons and later as 'umbrellas' or 'flowers'. Agaricus and Volvariella are picked as buttons, the others as flowers. Mushrooms should be picked and not cut to prevent infection of the mycelium.

If the mushrooms are kept cool they will stay fresh for about one week. If they are not sold fresh, the main method of preservation is by drying.


The most common problem is contamination of the spawn or substrate by other micro-organisms or low yielding strains. This can be overcome by ensuring spawn comes from a competent supplier and that the substrate is pasteurized. Some growers do not pasteurise the substrate because of the higher costs While this may be possible for substrates which have a low risk of contamination - e.g. cotton waste - it is not generally to be recommended.

Training for the Tropics

The University of Edinburgh is running the following short courses designed for a range of overseas professionals. For further details contact Edinburgh University, Training & Conference Division, 1 Marischall Crescent, Edinburgh, EH16 5HP, UK.

Dryland Farming Development

18 June- 25 August 1995
16 June- 23 August 1996

Indigenous Technical Knowledge in Tropical Agricultural Development

28 June - 8 September 1995
26 June - 6 September 1996

Current Techniques in the Laboratory Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases of Ruminants

14 - 26 April 1996

Enabling Women in Rural Development

28 June - 8 September 1995
26 June - 6 September 1996

Participative Agricultural Extension Technology in the Tropics

28 June - 8 September 1995
4 October - 15 December 1995
26 June - 6 September 1996
2 October - 13 December 1996

Delivering Privatised Animal Health Services in the Tropics

14-26 April 1996

Recent Advances and Current Concepts in Tropical Veterinary Medicine

31 March - 12 April 1996

Courses also include forestry, training, management skills, and media techniques

Tomato concentrate - further developments from India

In past issues of Food Chain we have described a simple, cheap and novel way of making a light tomato puree. Essentially the method involves allowing a puree of tomato (with skin and seeds removed by sieving) to hang for two or three hours in a fine muslin bag. During this time clear 'water' runs out and the final weight is reduced to a third i.e. a three-times concentration has taken place.

A number of readers have contacted us and expressed considerable interest in the method and we understand that workers in Peru have tried this and hope to set up a small commercial processing plant in the near future.

The puree produced by this system is still low in solids when compared to commercial tomato paste (about 20 per cent solids compared to 30 to 35 per cent).

Major Gupta from India has written suggesting that the use of a de humidified air drier might be able to effect the final concentration without the need to resort to vacuum concentration. His company makes such driers, trade name Bry-Air

Dehumidifiers, and it is claimed that the smallest model in the range can remove 2lbs of water an hour.

Essentially driers of this type involve drawing air over beds of a desiccant suet as silica gel or salt. The desiccant remove, moisture from the air which leaves the unit with a very low relative humidity. If this extremely dry air is then passed over trays of the tomato concentrate, it should remove more water, giving a higher degree of concentration.

After use the desiccant needs to be redried. In a tropical climate the sun should be sufficient.

Major Gupta may be contacted at Arctic India Sales, 20 Raipur Rd. Delhi 110054 Alternatively, readers may contact IT.

We really feel that this is an area deserving investigation; a method of makeing a tomato puree with all the fresh flavour of the fruit, no heat damage and minimal energy inputs must be worth looking into. Could, as the Major suggests, a similar method be applied to fruits such as mango or papaya?

Safety of street foods in Calcutta

This article by Dr Indiri Chakravaty looks at a very important, although little considered aspect of food quality and safety - street foods. These foods are often of great socio-economic importance in large cities of developing countries. They provide income for large numbers of vendors and a high proportion of the daily nutritional needs of millions of people, including the very poor. Studies by the Institute have shown that many poor people elect to survive on convenient street foods as this is cheaper than cooking at home and does not waste time, allowing them work longer each day. Simply driving vendors from the streets could cause great hardship. What is needed is an approach that fosters the sale of safe street foods.

Ready-to eat-foods and beverages are sold by approximately 150,000 vendors in Calcutta to an estimated 9,000,000 consumers. The clientele is not restricted to low income groups but includes middle to high middle class office workers, students and shoppers. A typical stall serves about 60 customers a day with up to 50 different products being sold, the most popular being tea, coffee and snacks.

India has a fairly comprehensive range of food regulations (Indian Penal Code, Municipal Acts and Prevention of Food Adulteration Acts). Street foods, despite being consumed by so many people, tend to be considered a passing phase and somewhat despised, so they have not received sufficient attention from enforcement agencies and have not been controlled or regulated. The indications are that regulation is needed.

The emergence and growth of the street food sector is related to the convenient site, the price and the fresh preparation of savoury products. Although customers were from different socio-economic groups, they selected where to buy, not, as might be expected on price (indeed prices vary little with 50 types of food ranging from Rs0.5 to Rs8 per serving), but on convenience. Few vendors had proper facilities and frequently complained of harassment from various quarters. Those that were licensed welcomed the fact as it meant they could access water, fuel etc.


Studies tested samples from four areas and found that the foods did not have excessive amounts of filth, dust or dirt. They were also organoleptically satisfactory (taste, smell and appearance). Adulterants were not detected neither was aflatoxin. The presence of saccharin was only detected in some samples of sherbet. The use of artificial colours was however, widespread.

While chemical and physical tests were generally acceptable, the micro-biological quality was less than satisfactory, with coliforms, moulds, salmonella and shigella found The poor micro-biological quality is caused by unhygienic preparation conditions, poor handling and the lack of clean, potable water.

From the nutritional point of view, street foods are good value. A snack meal providing 1000 calories (about one third of the daily requirement) can be bought for the equivalent of 16 20 Us cents.

Considering their socio-economic importance, it is clear that street food vendors cannot simply be removed from the streets. However, some control is urgently needed to prevent any further increase in their numbers. While the general quality of foods bought on the street is comparable to that sold by small hotels, there is a strong need to improve their micro-biological quality. As much of the micro-biological contamination is due to the use of non-potable water the local authority is urged to improve the quality of water available to vendors and provide guidance on its use and storage.

Essentially we believe that the quality of street foods will be most improved by increasing awareness, both of vendors and consumers through the mass media, vendor group meetings, NGOs working with women (many vendors are women) and special training for municipal workers. Some form of vendors license should be brought in and the promotion of mobile stalls or kiosks could be a most effective way to ensure cleaner food.

Quality of honey for export

Honey is a concentrated solution of sugars, mainly fructose and glucose (often known as invert or reducing sugars) together with small amounts of acids (volatile compounds that give its characteristic odour), vitamins and pollen. Perhaps the most important definition of honey is that it is a natural food made from nectar as taken from the flowers by bees. The nectar as taken from flowers is a dilute solution of sugars. The bees ripen and concentrate this to a level that stops it fermenting. In other words, it becomes stable and has a long shelf life. During this process the sugars are modified to give the typical sugar profile of honey.

Honey is damaged by heat so the golden rule for exporters is to avoid storage under conditions of high temperature. Keep it cool and fresh, and export as quickly as possible The standard export packaging is in 300kg drums that are either internally lacquered with a food-grade material or coated with beeswax. The drums should be completely filled to exclude air, which can react with the honey and cause oxidation. The drums must be well sealed to exclude moisture.

Each drum should be clearly labelled with the name and address of the exporter, the net weight and any other information requested by the buyer such as date of packing. Transport times should be kept to a minimum, remembering that warehouses at ports are often very damp and hot.


Low levels of reducing sugars indicate probable adulteration with sugar.

Space does not permit the inclusion of detailed testing procedures but any readers requiring information can write to the Technical Enquiry Unit at ITDG.

Honey requires little processing other than melting, blending (to give a standard flavour), and, if required granulation before bottling. Semi-solid honeys are said to be granulated and all honey has a tendency to crystallize. Much work has been done to control this process.

The usual way to make granulated honey is to add about 10 per cent of granulated material to the liquid honey and blend well before bottling. The 'starter acts as a 'seed, and the bottled material sets quickly.

Until recently the quality of honey relied to a great extent on the art of the producer in storing and blending the product. The increasing burden of legislation and the requirement of 'due diligence' means that the importer is under increasing pressure. (The importer/seller has to be able to demonstrate that all due diligence has been taken to make sure that the supplier has adequate quality assurance systems in place.) This pressure will be passed back to the exporter through, for example, specifications that ale more strict than those that apply to the product after it is bottled. A typical UK importers specification is shown in Table 2.

Prices vary considerably as shown in Table 3 which clearly shows that certain consumers will pay high prices for high quality types of honey

Table 2: Typical UK importers specification

Specifications for pure bees honey are to be as per UK/EEC regulations apart from the following requirements

Moisture = Max 19%
Hydroxy methyl = Max 20 ppm furfuraldehyde
Diastase = Min 15
Apparent reducing = Min 65% sugar content
Apparent sucrose = Max 5% content
Water insoluble = Max 0. 1% solids content
Ash content = Max 0.6%
Acidity = Max 40 milk-equivalent acid per 1000gms
Flavour/smell = Typical blossom honey flavour, free from off taints, or untypical strong flavour
Packing = Large drums of 285-300 kg net, wax or epoxy-resin lined (suitable for carriage of foodstuffs)
Trace elements = Guaranteed to be within EEC regulations on mineral contents and free from pesticide or antibiotic presence.

Honey to be pure and unadulterated as defined by carbon-isotope examinations (White and Doner 1978, White and Winters 1989, and others)

Table 3: Price variations between types of honey

Brand/product type Price £ per kg


Supermarket own brand


Product of more than one country

Gales pure honey


Product of more than one country

Tropical forest organic


Certified organic honey from Africa

Rowse Greek Mountain honey


A dark mountainous honey where bees forage on thyme, wild rose and pine

Scottish heather honey


A darkish honey, from Scotland

Summary of an article first published in The Network, TWIN Ltd, 5-11 Worship Street, London

Adding value to honey

By secondary processing it may be possible to add considerable value to honey and its by-products, as the final products sell for much more than the ingredients.

These formulations are taken from an article produced in Beekeeping and Development and were originally developed by Elaine White. Her book Super Formulas should be essential reading for those interested in this subject.


This is popular in many countries and is easy to make.

1 oz of beeswax

One half cup of baby oil

The beeswax is slowly melted in a double boiling pan. When liquid, stir in the baby oil. Pour into attractive containers.


One tablespoon of shredded beeswax

One tablespoon of petroleum jelly

One teaspoon of honey

One tablespoon of lanolin

A few drops of aromatic essential oil (peppermint, eucalyptus, wintergreen or camphor).

Melt the wax, lanolin and petroleum jelly in a double boiler. Add the honey and essential oil. Stir the mixture till cool.


Many cheeses are externally waxed to prevent them drying and and to retard mould growth

13.5oz beeswax

2.5oz vegetable shortening

Heat ingredients together in an oven at 240°F checking the temperature with a thermometer.

Hold or weight down the cheese under the hot wax for 10 minutes; this kills most surface micro-organisms

Remove the cheese and allow the wax to cool to 160°F.

The cheese is then repeatedly briefly dipped in the wax until it is covered with a wax layer about 1/16 of an inch in thickness.

Improving standards of hygiene

The following article, written by Calvin Onyango, a food technologist from Kenya - who is clearly frustrated at the lack of quality assurance - highlights the low standards in some food manufacturing enterprises and demonstrates the need for more attention to quality assurance.

In this article I would like to look at some of the companies I have visited in which basic hygiene rules are so flagrantly flouted. The employee is a prime determinant of final product quality; hence rules about washing hands before contact with foods, use of utensils to handle products, disposable gloves, clean clothes, and protected hair need to be applied regardless of the size of the operation

In practice what can be seen? An employee happily picking his nose while waiting for the next can on the line to fill. Meanwhile a colleague is sweeping up a cloud of dust right in the middle of the production line. At the change of shift a casual worker rushes in and quickly changes into soiled overalls and goes to the production line. He shakes (unwashed) hands with those around. Washed hands and gloves do not feature. Late in the shift the worker goes to a dark corner for a sleep while colleagues cover for him Rules are being ignored whilst management complain about the cost of providing clean protective clothing every day.

Even where basic processing standards are being met they are often undermined by post-processing operations. In one example seen, the rate of production far exceeded the rate of packaging. Here the excess baked product was put into large open sacks for later packaging. Under the steamy conditions in the factory it picked up moisture and became soggy. Workers, as they passed the sacks, dipped in for a snack. The basic rules state that finished stock should be kept in separate stores. But what do we often see? Poor store management, with final products in the same room as rejected raw materials and old flour bags.

All too often basic safety rules are flouted while consumers look on and public health officials turn a blind eye. In meat handling (a very high risk area) rules state that raw meal should be transported in a sealed compartment made of foodgrade material, with impermeable floors and ventilation. In my country, meat is commonly distributed in pick-up trucks with a crude metal bin in the back. It is made of any metal, poorly sealed and not ventilated. The meat is simply dumped in, and then sweats as it is moved to the market. The whole system is conducive to microbiological growth At the point of delivery, the meat is hoisted onto the shoulders of a porter wearing a dirty, bloodstained coal.

Consumers, law-makers and public health officials look on, accepting such standards as a necessary evil in a game of hide and seek with microbes and germs.

But who is to blame for this often prevailing state of affairs? In my opinion all those involved management for failing to provide guidance, workers for a lack of sense of duty, consumers for silently accepting the situation and the regulatory agencies for looking the other way

As world-wide competition increases, manufacturers in African countries will have to improve their hygiene standards to have a chance of survival. Accolades will not be awarded for mediocre performance and the final arbiters, the consumers, will vote with their feet and buy where quality and safety are assured.

Book Lines

Report on an FAO Expert Consultation, Jogjakarta, Indonesia. 1988 ISBN 92-5-002836-9

This report in English, French and Spanish examines socio-economic aspects of street foods, food safety problems, and current vendor practices Recommendations are made for action to be taken to better assure consumer protection, while at the same time recognizing the importance of such foods to both vendors and consumers. Recommended to those working or interested in this area. A useful bibliography is included.

T H Quimio, S T Chang and D J Royse Published by FAO, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy. ISBN 9251 03026X £9.50

This publication of 155 pages is easy to read and well illustrated. It includes the basic scientific principles which serious producers will need to understand It is aimed at growers using relatively low-cost, simple methods of cultivation. The last few pages consider the preservation of mushrooms by drying and canning. These last areas, particularly drying, perhaps deserve a little more space.

Published by GRET, 213 Rue de la Fayette, 75010 Paris, France.

This small, well illustrated book in French, covers the different stages and methods of cheese manufacture. The information will prove useful initial reading to those considering the establishment of small artisan cheese plants in Africa. The second half of the book consists of short case studies from Algeria, Burundi, East Africa, Rwanda, Mali, Central African Republic and Tanzania


As part of the UK Overseas Development Administration's adaptive research programme, NRI has developed a manual of procedures for horticultural export quality assurance. The manual is designed to assist exporters in developing countries to establish and maintain proper quality assurance procedures in order to meet the increasing customer demands and legislative requirements of the European market. It is a guide to enable exporters to develop their own systems which will be acceptable to the market. The manual has been endorsed by leading European importers and retailers as an acceptable baseline standard

It is a two part manual: the first being the preparation of the company's product management manual and other actions that must be taken to achieve the necessary quality and legislative requirements. The second part is a technical assurance guide covering water portability, packaging, pesticide management, standards, hygiene, transport, storage temperatures and associated EC legislation

The manual has been validated with growers and exporters for fine beans and mange tout in Kenya, and for grapes in India, and has been endorsed by COLEACP (Liaison Committee Europe - Africa - Caribbean - Pacific). It is available in English and a French translation is currently being prepared. It is intended that the manual be used as a part of an in-country training package for existing and new exporters of horticultural produce. For further details please contact Dr Nigel Poulter, Post-Harvest Horticulture Group, Natural Resources Institute, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime

Kent ME4 4TB, United Kingdom.

Quality control and quality assurance

From experience gained whilst training senior staff from small food processing enterprises in developing countries, it appears that there is considerable confusion in many people's minds over the difference between quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA). This short article looks at QC and QA and introduces the principles of hazard analysis and critical control point systems (HACCP).

There are many definitions of 'quality' and one commonly used is related to 'fitness for use' and 'to the satisfaction of the consumer'. The objective is to make sure that the consumer is completely satisfied with the quality of the product, and certainly never dissatisfied. In this way the manufacturer can hope for repeat purchases. The maintenance of quality is thus essential for the success of the enterprise. Any errors that occur which leave a customer unhappy or even cause them to complain, will damage the business. Remember, your customers will tell friends if not satisfied with your products, but will be unlikely to tell you, the manufacturer. The damage then multiplies. Quality faults that cause harm may involve the producer with regulatory bodies and possible fines, press reports and in extreme cases, severe penalties.

Establishing good appropriate quality management systems cost money, and many small enterprises unfortunately see these costs as either a burden or a luxury. However, for the reasons outlined above, the expenditure should be seen as a routine business cost and no different from any other cost such as fuel, because if the customer is not routinely satisfied, the business will fail.


Quality control consists of carrying out checks at various points in the manufacturing system, e.g. net weight, acidity, and colour. It looks at particular points in the whole process at which specific checks are made. In contrast, quality assurance (or total QA as it is increasingly called), looks at the whole process - from the purchase of materials, through the manufacturing process, to the point at which the consumer uses the food. It is a management tool which includes quality control.

The old adage 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' well describes the QA system which, in recent years, has evolved into what is known as the HACCP system - hazard analysis and critical control points. What then, does this system involve?

HACCP is based on risk management - micro-biological, chemical and physical In order to establish a HACCP system (which is now often mandatory for companies in developing countries), every step in the manufacturing process is examined and analysed in detail, and all points at which a 'hazard' is possible, are identified. The seriousness of the hazard is then considered and checks put in place to make sure that the hazard is controlled This is supported by a documentation system which allows the manufacturer to show that a sound HACCP system is in place and is being operated.

Checks must be put in place to make sure that hazards are controlled

Many small- and medium-scale food processors will perhaps, at first sight, feel that the application of QA and HACCP systems is 'only for the big boys'. This is not true, and every food producer, however small, can benefit from the techniques. Most small producers will not have all the skills and knowledge needed to carry out a HACCP analysis, so one of the best ways is to set up a small team of two or three people from local universities or institutions to assist. This team then examines the manufacturing process in the factory and identifies sources of potential contamination; microbiological, physical (such as foreign bodies) and chemical (for example pesticides or excess use of preservatives). During this process a production flow chart is developed. Next, the team identifies potential hazards against points on the flow chart and scores the severity of each risk At this stage it is likely that a number of questions will need to answered, perhaps by asking advice from specialists. The final step is to consider what control measures can be taken at all the critical hazard points; clearly the most serious hazards, (for example broken glass splinters), need more serious attention than those that cannot cause harm, (for example a fruit that floats in a jam).

Two final areas need consideration:

Firstly the efficiency of any production system depends on people, their motivation and understanding of what they are expected to do and why. It is essential to include all workers in the implementation of QA/HACCP systems. A cleaner, for example, must understand the importance of the task, what needs to be done, how frequently and, most importantly, what may go wrong if the work is not carried out as planned. Workers must be encouraged to report to the manager or owner any problems they see (:after all they are closer to the shop floor than the owner).



Secondly, a simple documentation system should be implemented. For this, a worker who has been given the responsibility for a task will need to sign that the work was done and when. Any defects, problems etc should be noted. In the final analysis however, it is the owner's responsibility to ensure that any programmed inspections, quality tests etc were carried out as required, because the buck stops with them.

Ghee - adding value to milk


Because of the high value added to milk by the production of ghee it was thought to be worth including for those who do not know of its production and properties. Ghee is a clear golden brown oil with a characteristic flavour of milk fat. It has a high demand for domestic use, as an ingredient for local food products (for example baking and confectionery manufacture) and as an export commodity.


The preservation of ghee depends upon the destruction of enzymes and contaminating micro-organisms by heat and its low moisture content which stops the development of the rancidity to which butter is subject under tropical conditions.


As milk is a low acid food that is very susceptible to spoilage and transfer of pathogenic bacteria to consumers, the methods used to handle milk at the dairy play an important role in determining the quality of the final product. The main hygienic requirements are:

Thorough cleaning and sterilizing (with chlorine solution or boiling water) of all equipment and utensils before and after processing (NB aluminium equipment should not be cleaned with chlorine solution).

Strict enforcement of personal hygiene measures.

· Filter milk after milking to remove visible dirt and any 'ropiness'.
· Cool milk immediately to slow down the growth of micro-organisms and enzymatic activity.

The critical quality control points in the: process are temperature control between 36 and 40°C milk before cream separation to optimize the efficiency of the separator, boiling down to the correct end point which can only be achieved through experience and efficient final filtering. Copper and iron vessels should never be used these metals speed up the development of rancidity.


· Cream separator
· Cheesecloth
· Filler
· Thermometer



Intermediate Technology enables poor people in the Third World to develop and use technologies and methods which give them more control over their lives and which contribute to the long-term development of their communities.

Food Chain is funded by the UK Overseas Development Administration and is edited and produced by members of Intermediate Technology's Agro-Processing Project Typeset by My Word! and printed by Neil Terry Printing on environmentally friendly paper.

Intermediate Technology Development Group Ltd. Company Reg. No. 871954, England. Reg. Charity No. 247257.

ISSN 0964-5810