Improvement of on-board handling of the silver cyprinid (Rastrineobola argentea): a case study of Kiyindi Landing Site, Lake Victoria.
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Small pelagic fishes such as silver fish (Rastreneobola argentea) are susceptible to spoilage that occur through chemical, enzymatic and microbial processes leading to deterioration in quality. However, there is limited information on level of spoilage of small pelagic fishes and its financial implication. The study assessed the level of on-board spoilage of R. argentea at Kiyindi landing site, Lake Victoria and determined its financial implications. Sensory examination based on a five-point hedonic scale to test for Consumer acceptability, texture, odour, flavour and colour or appearance of the dried samples and microbial tests for total bacterial count and isolated spoilage bacteria (Pseudomonas spp Aeromonas spp) were conducted 0n a total of 63 samples. The results revealed that the present on-board handling practices of R. argentea pose a high contamination risk due to high microbial loads coming from the cross contamination from the fishers and poor quality of fishing containers used. The total plate count through all the treatment samples ranged7-8 ± 0.01 cfu/ml. Pseudomonas spp was the most prevalent spoilage organism with the highest levels found at bottom and middle (4.7 ± 0.11 log cfu/ml) of the ordinary container/mukene at the floor. Aeromonas spp level was similarly highest at the bottom and middle (4.6 ± 0.19 log cfu/ml) of the same mentioned sample container. Similarly, bottom microbial loads at the bottom of the container correlated with the container drain water samples where Pseudomonas spp level was highest in salted container drain water (4.92 ± 0.05 log cfu/ml) and lowest in fishing ground water (3.46 ± 0.23 log cfu/ml). Aeromonas spp level were highest in unsalted container drain water (4.54 ± 0.23 log cfu/ml) and lowest in fishing ground water (3.35 ± 0.24 log cfu/ml). R.argentea samples from the salted treatment had the highest financial value 24.19 % even after the first cycle of the returns on investment computation. Generally, the current on-board handling of R. is unhygienic and unsafe. There is need sensitize the fishing communities on the health risks posed by poor on-board handling practices on consumers and also to reduce the post-harvest losses associated with spoilage