Maize, peanuts, peanut butter, rice and sorghum are among the food that are mostly contaminated with aflatoxins.
Aflatoxins in food have serious health detriments and have even caused death.
So how do we mitigate the contamination in food in Kenya?
This was the revelation and discourse that the webinar, ‘How safe is your food? Managing the hidden poison’ took on Thursday April 15, 2021. The webinar that was organized by the College of Biological and Physical Sciences brought together international food agencies, private sector, government and academia to deliberate on Kenya’s standing in management of poison in food.
While delivering his open remarks, the Vice Chancellor. Prof. Stephen Kiama noted, ‘ The global Hunger index (2019) shows that millions of Kenyans suffer from hunger and from a study done by KIPPRA recently 14.5 million Kenyans face food insecurity and malnutrition every year. The big question today, however, is not food availability or scarcity, but How safe is your food? This is also a big issue that has remained silent for a long time.
‘Out of the 17 Reported cases of aflatoxicosis resulting into death since 1960, 12 are from Kenya. This puts Kenya at a center stage in the fight against aflatoxin exposure. The health effects of aflatoxins in Kenya cannot be over emphasized,’ The Vice Chancellor was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Finance planning and Development, Prof. Margaret Hutchinson.
Prof. Sarah Saeger, Grent University presented on the effects of aflatoxins and mycotoxins on human beings and animals. She showed how a lot of gut, kidney, liver issues are brough on by aflatoxins humans ingest through food.
While acknowledging the responsibility of making sure the food is safety is the responsibility of everyone along the food chain from the farmer to the consumer. Prof. Hamadi Boga, PS, Ministry of Agriculture presented on the role of the ministry in ensuring that Kenyans consume food of great quality. He observed, ‘Everyone in the food chain has to have good practices; cultural, hygiene and manufacturing.’
The PS, Ministry of Health Susan Mochache, who was represented by Brenda Obura took the audience through the measures that the ministry has taken to raise awareness on poisons in food, while showing slides of how it has been done wrong by farmers through the drying process and choice of storage.
On her part, Ms. Laurene Landis Representative and Country Director, World Food Programme, Kenya Country Office noted that through partnership with the National Government, development of County food safety and quality strategies and development and dissemination of school food safety and quality guidelines presented on the strategy and management that the World Food Programme has employed on management of mycotoxin in Kenya.
CEO Paloma Fernandes, Cereal Millers Association and KEBS Director Esther Ngari the two last presenters of the day who took the audience through the contribution of their organizations in management of mycotoxins.
Ms Paloma challenged farmers to use the aflatoxin maize to make starch for industrial use and ethanol.
The session was informative and highly engaging with questions and answers filling the chats.