A participant-led programme for field veterinary training to identify bacteriological quality of milk from the farmer to the retail outlet

Kalupahana, R and Silva-Fletcher, A T (2015) A participant-led programme for field veterinary training to identify bacteriological quality of milk from the farmer to the retail outlet. Food Control, 63. pp. 128-134.

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Abstract

The training of field veterinarians in veterinary public health needs an in-depth understanding of the in-situ problems, social and economic barriers that prevent problem solving and a relevant pedagogical approach to suit the mature learner. A participatory approach is necessary to develop such training. A course designed on the principles of adult learning theory and utilizing the experience of the field veterinarian's local knowledge combined with the expertise of the training provider can be very effective. Forty-eight field veterinarians were trained using a collaborative, participatory approach to understand the issues in clean milk production in Sri Lanka. The veterinarians developed a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point-based decision framework to identify and evaluate the evidence of bacterial contamination points in the milk chain from the farm to the processing plant. Samples and swabs were collected for bacterial culture and results showed high bacterial counts that showed contamination of milk starting from the farm, through milk collection and chilling centers ending with 2 × 106–3 × 107 bacteria per ml of milk. Chemical and physical hazards were also identified. Lack of appropriate hygienic procedures, chilling at the farm and at the collection center, together with the delays at the chilling center was identified as main contributing factors for high bacterial counts. This problem-based training approach facilitated collaborative inquiry, experiential learning and critical analytical skills. The training enabled the veterinarians to understand the scale of the problem and how they can intervene directly and indirectly to ensure clean milk production in Sri Lanka.