Kombucha Production in Uganda: Quality Aspects and Compliance with Standards
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Kombucha is a slightly sweet and acidic fermented tea beverage. It’s production and consumption in Uganda is on the rise due to associated claimed nutritional and health benefits to the consumers for example ,it is reported to help prevent bladder infections, reduce kidney calcification, protect against diabetes and increase body’s resistance to cancer. There has been limited information on the quality and safety of commercially produced Kombucha in Uganda. This study evaluated knowledge and practices of Kombucha processors (n=8) with certified and uncertified products in Uganda. It also evaluated the quality and safety of certified (n=4) and uncertified (n=4) Kombucha. A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan for Kombucha processing was developed and validated. Majority of the processors (n=6) had very good (scores above 75%) knowledge and practices related to food safety. Most processors (n=6) did not know the importance of sanitizing equipment. Half of the processors did not know about HACCP, its pre-requisites and Kombucha specification. Processors (n=4) did not use objectives methods to test product readiness. Half of the processors (n=4) did not follow the Kombucha specification while (n=5) had no HACCP plan. All products passed the Kombucha requirements for Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., acidity and heavy metals (lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium). However, 75% of the products did not meet the quality and safety specifications for Kombucha. A HACCP plan with three CCPs and five CPs was developed and validated. Adoption of the HACCP plan resulted in the products complying with the yeast and molds requirements as specified in Kombucha specification (US 2037: 2019). Hence, adoption and implementation of the HACCP plan resulted in significant improvement of quality and safety of Kombucha. This study, therefore, informs Kombucha processors and regulators on the safety and quality of Kombucha on the market, importance of HACCP plan development, training and implementation, which will lead to improved regulation and compliance with the relevant food safety standards in future.