FOOD CONTAMINATION IN NAIROBI
Reports of contaminated sukuma wiki in Nairobi have been making headlines lately and the information is quite disturbing. According to a recent research led by Carl Johan Lagerkvist of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and published in the current issue of the East African Medical Journal, the sukuma wiki consumed in Nairobi both bought from open air markets and in the supermarkets, has high levels of bacterial contamination.
Sukuma wiki (kales) is the most popular accompaniment of ugali (made from maize flour), Kenya’s staple food, mostly due to its affordability and nutritional benefits.
A bunch of sukuma in the open air markets and in the grocery shops in the estates goes for as little as five shillings and it’s estimated that almost all the three million residents of Nairobi eat sukuma wiki on an almost daily basis.
FAECAL PRESENCE IN SUKUMA WIKI
Among the organisms the researchers tested in the kales was, e.coli, a group of bacteria that causes stomach upsets and respiratory ailments, salmonella bacterium ,which causes severe food poisoning and coliforms, a class of harmful bacteria found in the environment, including in human and animal waste.
The researchers revealed that in order to keep the sukuma wiki fresh and alluring, most retailers sprinkle or moisten them with unclean and sometimes polluted water.
“Faecal coliforms in water used on farms for irrigation and in the markets for washing the vegetables exceed levels recommended by the World Health Organisation [WHO]”, the study reported.
The sukumawiki sampled were taken from the open markets of Kangemi, Kawangware, Githurai and supermarkets supplied from the Athi River, Ngong and Wangige.
A few months ago, a TV expose on the same issue showed how farmers in Nairobi were using sewage water to irrigate kales and spinach. The end product would fall in the hands of unsuspecting consumers. Apparently, vegetables sold in our markets are not supervised hence putting the lives of Kenyan consumers at risk.
… THE CITY COUNCIL OF NAIROBI TO THE RESCUE?
Following the revelations from the study, the City Council of Nairobi has said that it will start to properly police the food baskets of the capital but can Kenyans really bank on that?
The City Council of Nairobi is one the worst and most corrupt government bodies in Kenya, which has failed to maintain hygiene and sanitation in most estates in Nairobi. Tasking the council with the responsibility of ensuring the sukuma we eat is not contaminated is not a move that will fill Nairobi’s residents with confidence.