International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, Volume 6, Issue 5, May-2015 70

ISSN 2229-5518


Stephen W. Kisembe, Patrick S. Muliro, Joseph W. Matofari, Bokeline O. Bebe.

ABSTRACT-This study determined the load, type and most common species of molds in 35 samples of fresh camel meat and Nyirinyiri obtained at different nodes along the value chain. Molds were detected in the samples: 75% at production, 55.5% at processing and 66.7% at marketing nodes with counts highest at the market (1.2 log cfu/g) and lowest at processing (0.8 log cfu/g) relative to production (1.0 log cfu/g). The most common mold species were Cunninghamella (20%) and Syncephaalastrum (17.1%) relative to Fusarium (14.3%), Alternaria (11.4%) and Paecilomyces (11.4%) while Aspergillus (5.7%), Penicillium (5.7%) and Mucor (2.9%) were least common. The study established that both spoilage and pathogenic molds were present in the camel Nyirinyiri and therefore the product could be unsafe for human consumption due to the risk of mycotoxins. However, there is room for improved hygiene standards along the camel Nyirnyiri value chain.

Key words: Camel, molds, Nyirinyiri, processing, species, value chain


Camel meat, fresh or processed, is an important food component in the diets of pastoral households. It is their major protein source of high biological value and rich in fat, B vitamins, Iron, Zinc and Vitamin A and essential and non-essential amino acids needed to build, maintain and repair body tissues[10] However, fresh meat is highly perishable due to its high moisture and protein contents, which are utilized by microorganisms. The processed meat is therefore a substitute to fresh meat in the arid and semi-arid areas where pastoral communities are found. Pastoral women process camel meat into Nyirinyiri product, which they prepare by cutting meat into thin strips, then sun drying and comminuting into small cubes before deep frying in cooking oil. The processed Nyirinyiri is stored in the same oil and is consumed little by little as required. It is a ready to eat dehydrated

meat product that substitutes fresh meat where

refrigeration facilities are not accessible. Nyirinyiri confers great convenience because of its long shelf life with desirable taste which pastoral households serve as a snack or combined with other foods as part of their daily diet. However, the processing involving deep fat frying and unhygienic storage conditions pose food safety and hygiene concerns to urban consumers of camel Nyirinyiri. Previous studies on Nyirinyiri from northern Kenya concentrated on Nyirinyiri from sheep and goat (Mathenge, 2005) and there is little or no available information on camel Nyirinyiri meat value chain from Isiolo County or elsewhere. The objective of the present study therefore, was to analyze the load, type and most common species of molds present in camel Nyirinyiri along the camel meat value chain in Isiolo County, in order to enhance food safety, quality and market acceptability of camel Nyirinyiri for consumers and for income security of the pastoral processors.

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The topography of Isiolo county is generally arid and semi-arid low lying plains on most parts of the region. Ewaso Nyiro is one of the main sources of water for both domestic and agricultural purposes. The average altitude of Isiolo County is between
200 - 300m above sea level and it receives very low precipitation. There are two rainy seasons in most years (April-June and October-December) and annual rainfall ranges from 150 to 650mm. Day time temperatures vary from 12oC - 28oC. The most predominant type of vegetation is shrubs and acacia plant species that are well adapted to the high temperatures. Camels are the most abundant livestock species in this area, with camel milk and meat marketing being an important income earning opportunity for the pastoral households.


The sampling of the camel Nyirinyiri was conducted along the value chain mapped from Isiolo County where camels are produced and Nyirinyiri processed to urban markets in Nairobi where the product is sold to urban consumers. A total of 35 samples of fresh camel meat and Nyirinyiri were collected at different nodes along the value chain by simple random sampling.


The dilution plate method was used to determine
the load and type of molds present in the camel Nyirinyiri product. Dilutions of 10-1 up to 10-6 were pour- plated. 1ml from each dilution bottle was pipetted and poured into each duplicate sterile petri dish. 15-20 ml of media (prepared by dissolving of Potato Dextrose Agar in 500ml distilled water and sterilizing at 1210C for 15 minutes then cooled) was poured into the plates. The media and the sample were mixed gently and incubated at room temperature for 7 days. All colonies were counted and colony forming units/gram (cfu/g) calculated by multiplying the average number of colonies by the reciprocal of the dilutions. Successive hyphae tip were transferred until pure cultures of each of fungus was obtained. The fungi were identified by their cultural and morphological features[2] using a microscope.


Data collected were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) using SAS program version
9.1. The least significant difference (LSD) was used for mean separation.


Table 1 indicates the total mold count/gram and percentages detected from the samples obtained along the Nyirinyiri value chain. Molds were detected in the samples at production (75%), processing (55%) and marketing (67%) nodes of the value chain. Mold count was highest at the market (1.2 log cfu/g) and lowest at processing (0.8 log
cfu/g) relative to production (1.0 log cfu/g).

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Table 1 Total molds count/gram and percentages in samples of camel meat and Nyirinyiri obtained along the
value chain

Node of the value chain

Samples (n)

No. positive

Percent positive (%)

Mean (log10 cfu/g)
















Means in the same column followed by the same superscript are not significantly different (p< 0.05)
At the production stage of the value chain,
presence of molds could be attributed to poor handling practices of the meat post slaughter. Camels were slaughtered in the open air, at a location which is quite separate from the slaughterhouse used for cattle. The slaughter takes place on the ground, so the meat is soon contaminated with dust and dirt. The slaughterhouse lacks technical facilities for carrying out the hygiene measures that are urgently needed. Inadequate energy and water supplies often make it difficult to clean and disinfect the slaughterhouse and equipment and dispose of offal and effluent. This means there is a very high risk of contamination of the meat. Cold storage rooms are unavailable. This is why fresh meat is many times of poor quality and has a short shelf life. Camel meat after slaughter was mainly transported from slaughter slabs to butcheries using donkey drawn carts. However, the carts were poorly designed hence offering difficulty in cleaning and are not dust proof. The material used to make the carts was not the recommended type in contravention of the public health requirements, predisposing consumers to unnecessary health risks. A rusting bottom was observed in one of the carts. The decrease in mold count (though not significant) at the processing stage of the value chain is attributed to the heat treatment of the cooking oil used in processing of Nyirinyiri which
could have contributed to the destruction of mold
spores that were present at the production stage.
Penicillium spore death in water occurs at 54.4oC for 30 minutes [5]. However, the increase in load of molds (though not significant) at the marketing stage of the value chain could be due to the hygienic level of the environment in which the product is marketed. Nyirinyiri was sold beside the roads in the open air and the packaging was done in light transparent polythene paper. These practices did not only predispose consumers to health risks but also hasten spoilage of the meat product [9].
From the fresh camel meat and Nyirinyiri samples examined, the most common mold species (Figure
1) in general were Cunninghamella (20%) and Syncephalastrum (17.1%) relative to Fusarium (14.3%), Alternaria (11.4%) and Paecilomyces (11.4%) while Aspergillus (5.7%), Penicillium (5.7%) and Mucor (2.9%) were least common. All these species were present in Nyirinyiri samples from the processing node while Nyirinyiri samples from marketing had only Cunninghamella, Aspergillus and Syncephalastrum species. Paecilomyces, Fusarium, Syncephalastrum and Cunninghamella were isolated in the fresh camel meat samples (production node), each at a level of 12.5%. Fresh camel meat was sold from butchers designated at different locations within Isiolo town. The butchers sampled from lacked refrigeration facilities, implying that fresh camel meat was exposed to
ambient temperatures for long hours hence the risk

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of microbial (fungal) proliferation. The ambient temperatures ranged from 12oC - 28oC which are ideal for growth of mesophiles such as Cunninghamella species. Nyirinyiri was sold besides the road in an open environment hence exposing the product to contamination with fungal spores from the air. It was dispensed from a plastic bucket using a plastic mug and the packaging was done in clear polythene papers. These practices did not

only predispose consumers to health risks but also
hastened spoilage of the meat by re-contamination every time it is dispensed and also the ambient temperature of about 25oC provides a conducive environment for growth of mesophilic organisms such as Aspergillus and Paecilomyces. The frequent occurrence of molds in meat indicates poor hygienic measures adopted in the slaughterhouses and in processing and handling of fresh and processed meat.



20 Penicillium


15 Alternaria

10 Paecilomyces


5 Syncephalastrum








Total (n=35)


Figure 1: Percent distribution of mold genera isolated samples of camel meat and Nyirinyiri along the value chain.


Results from this study demonstrate that dehydrated meat products are liable to contamination from different sources with molds during processing, handling and preservation.
Aflatoxin forming mold species can grow on
dehydrated meat products since they tolerate reduced water activity. The storage of meat products for long periods under ambient conditions and in the absence of hygienic measures
leads to the growth of molds. The mold count in

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the sampled camel meat and Nyirinyiri reflect the hygienic conditions under which it is produced and stored. The load levels of the species of molds isolated were within the critical limits not harmful to human health but also indicate room for improved hygiene standards along the value chain. In order to assure safety and quality of camel Nyirinyiri, sanitary rules should be adopted to cover proper transportation of meat as well as periodical cleaning and disinfection of transport vehicle and meat storage areas. The processing areas should be hygienically constructed and supplied with equipment and utensils which can be easily cleaned and disinfected. Educational programs and training courses should be recommended to the meat handlers, processors and marketers. Strict hygienic conditions are to be maintained in the production, storage and distribution of meat products. Research needs to be carried out to ascertain the mycological aspect of camel Nyirinyiri with special respect to proteolytic and lipolytic molds that are responsible for the eventual spoilage of camel Nyirinyiri under storage conditions as well as determine the actual shelf life.


My sincere gratitude goes to RUFORUM for funding this research and Egerton University for facilitating the work to completion


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