This study assessed the effects of solar tent drying and open sun drying on nutrient content and microbial load of Engraulicypris sardella (local name Usipa), a pelagic cyprinid endemic to Lake Malawi which supports the bulk of artisanal fishery in Malawi. Solar tent dried and open sun dried Engraulicypris sardella contained 63.77Â±0.12 % and 63.62Â±0.28 % of crude protein, 22.79Â± 0.20 % and 22.9Â± 0.24 % of fat, 6.29 Â± 0.10 % and 15.48Â± 0.11% of moisture, and 13.87Â± 0.16 % and 20.18Â± 0.60 % of ash respectively. Ash and moisture content were significant different (p = 0.001) however, crude protein and crude fat content showed a non-significant difference (p = 0.05). Total viable bacteria counts were significantly higher in open sun dried (4.1Ã—105 CFU/g) than solar tent dried fish (2.5Ã—102 CFU/g) although, populations were not above acceptable norms (108CFU/g) in both. Common isolated bacteria from solar tent dried and open sun dried Engraulicypris sardella were 1.0Ã—101 and 5.1Ã—103 for Total coliform, 0 and 4.7Ã—103 for Escherishia coli, 0 and 6.5 Ã— 104 for Salmonella, 0 and 5.7Ã—102 for Shigella, 0 and 2.2 Ã—103 for Bacillus, 1.2Ã—102 and 5.4Ã—106 for Staphylococcus, 0 and 6.0Ã—106 for Vibrio and 1.7Ã—102 and 3.4Ã—105 for Pseudomonas. These study results suggests that solar tent dried were superior to open sun dried Engraulicypris sardella because low moisture content inhibited growth of microbes specifically pathogenic ones, hence improving quality, entails an increase storage life and its safety. The need to promote solar tent drying for processing small fish species including Engraulicypris sardella in Malawi cannot be over-emphasized. Key words: Engraucypriss sardella, pathogens, microbiol load, proximate, Lake Malawi
Keywords: Engraucypriss sardella, pathogens, microbial load, proximate, Lake Malawi.