Cambridge-Africa

Dr Angela Parry-Hanson Kunadu

Dr. Angela Parry-Hanson Kunadu (University of Ghana)

Research title: Characterization of bacterial pathogens from informal dairy value chains in Ghana

Research project: Raw and processed fresh milk contribute significantly to nutritional needs of the general populace and economic gain of smallholder businesses in the dairy sector. Milk has also been implicated in foodborne illnesses worldwide. All scales of milk production and processing have the potential to impact consumer health through transmission of significant pathogens. Enteropathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella have been typically associated with raw milk internationally. For this reason, raw milk consumption is banned in many jurisdictions. In Ghana, fresh milk production and subsequent handling and retail occur in the informal sector, where milk hygiene is not strictly observed. Fresh milk is typically retailed raw, boiled and cooled, or processed, mostly into unfermented cheese and spontaneously fermented products. This sector feeds a critical mass of the populace who have limited access to adequate health care. In fact, the regulatory framework for dairy in Ghana, which is only applicable to the formal sector, has no provision for fresh milk products, except for imported ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk. While there is very limited data on marketed milk quality in Ghana, microbial safety and characterization of pathogens isolated along the informal milk value chains has not been done. Enteropathogens such as Salmonella could be a public health threat, especially to children, and pregnant and lactating mothers. Other less known opportunistic pathogens like Staphylococcus sciuri could provide important information on transfer of antimicrobial resistance genes to microbial populations in milk. Identification and characterization of these pathogens from raw and ready-to-eat milk products along informal dairy value chains, will provide critical information on the serotypes, lineages, environmental and host adaptation, and antibiotic resistance profiles in dairy environments in Ghana. The aim of this research is to bridge the knowledge gap by providing information on the hygienic quality of milk as it transitions through the informal dairy value chains, and generate data on prevalence, distribution, and characterization of phenotypes and genotypes of significant pathogens in dairy.

Collaborator: Dr. Andrew Grant, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge