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KENYA’S TOXIC GIFT TO THE STARVING

Aflatoxin contaminated maize

Kenyans have yet another security threat to worry about. This time, it’s not the Al- Shabaab but food security. This comes after the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) Secretary General, Abbas Gullet, revealed on Thursday last week that about 60,000 school pupils are at health risk after consuming contaminated relief food supplied to drought stricken parts of the country.

Following the drought that ravaged the country in the last few months, an initiative spearheaded by SAFARICOM and KCB FOUNDATIONS dubbed “KENYANS for KENYA” (see Kenya Forum posting August 10) was launched in an effort to raise Sh500 million, in four weeks, towards famine relief for over 3 million Kenyans who were facing starvation. The response was overwhelming as patriotic and compassionate Kenyans contributed generously, even exceeding the Sh500 million target.

Part of the money raised was used to buy Unimix, a nutritious pre-cooked, high protein food that comprises maize and soya which is fortified with vitamins and minerals, and the food was to be distributed in schools and health centers.

DEADLY AFLATOXIN

Tests by the Kenya Bureau of Standards, SGS and Analab confirmed that the food ration contained traces of the deadly aflatoxin and thus was unfit for human consumption. The supply had been made to eastern, northern Kenyan and the coastal regions. Experts warn that exposure to aflatoxin can lead to liver cancer and the affected pupils must undergo urgent medical check-ups.

The two firms that supplied the Unimix, Proctor & Allan EA Ltd and Sai Millers, have been put on the spot and forced to recall the products. Abbas Gullet confirmed that 362 metric tonnes of Unimix supplied had been recalled and is now under lock and key waiting to be destroyed.

Adan Duale MP - "Millers must take responsibility"

Dujis MP Adan Duale who called for investigations on the matter, said the two millers should take responsibility. “The two millers must be made to take responsibility of the health issues that are likely to face our children”, he said, “This also means that we have no assurance that the food we are consuming in the country is safe in any way.”

However, Proctor & Allan’s managing director, Judy Macharia, argues that the contaminated products had minimal aflatoxin to harm those who had consumed the food. “The contamination is of no adverse limits, but we have decided to recall the batches as a precautionary measure”, she said.

Given that the deadly fungus was found in products not from some rogue supplier but from a mainstream miller, Kenyans are a rightly worried.

President Kenyatta declared winner.

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