Bio Foods and USAID have joined forces to launch the “Safe Milk Kenya” partnership focused on enhancing consumer health by combating aflatoxins.
More than 80 per cent of dairy products in Kenya contain aflatoxins, invisible yet dangerous toxins that pose a serious threat to millions of lives and livelihoods. These toxins are linked to a substantial cancer burden in Kenya, with a clear relationship between aflatoxin levels in food and national cancer rates.
USAID said it has committed $240,000 to the partnership, complementing Bio Foods’ investment of nearly $300,000.
The partnership was launched yesterday by US Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman with top government officials in attendance.
Whitman said the partnership is a strategic response to equip Kenyan dairy farmers with essential knowledge and tools to produce safer, higher-quality milk.
This, she said, not only protects consumer health but also bolsters the economic viability of farmers’ operations.
“Through USAID’s investment and Bio Foods’ commitment, we are launching a more than half-million-dollar initiative to combat these toxins,” said Ambassador Meg Whitman. Our approach is holistic – we’re not just tackling the toxins along the milk value chain, but we’re also empowering the very hands that nurture these products: Kenyan farmers.”
Joachim Westerveld, Executive Chairman and CEO of Bio Foods said the company is committed to upholding the highest global standards for the benefit of farmers and consumers.
“We will empower farmers with techniques and tools to produce safe dairy products,” added Westerveld said, “Bio is a purpose-driven company with a clear mission: Building a world where everyone has access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food. As such, Bio adheres to global quality standards with the aim of contributing to transforming the Kenyan Dairy sector for the better using a total value chain approach (from consumer to farmer). We do this by pioneering fair & quality-based pricing for farmers.” He said.
Aflatoxin contamination has emerged as a significant issue in the dairy industry, resulting in decreased animal productivity, livestock fatalities, and a high risk of severe illnesses, including cancer and, in some cases, death.
This initiative brings together stakeholders from the private, public, and development sectors.
Principal Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Jonathan Mueke said the initiative aligns with the government’s objective of enhancing milk safety and quality.
“Milk plays a significant role in the agricultural sector. We aim to increase dairy farmers’ incomes, foster consumer confidence, and enhance overall improvement in the dairy industry.” He remarked.
The campaign also seeks to raise awareness among consumers and farmers regarding the health impacts of elevated aflatoxin levels in milk. To achieve this, they will provide training and guidance on mitigation measures to reduce contamination.
Nairobi Deputy Governor James Njoroge, who was also present, said the launch is timely.
“Frequent aflatoxin occurrence is considered a challenge to food safety. Despite public awareness campaigns, homemade and commercial feeds significantly accumulate aflatoxins. The Nairobi city government seeks to enhance food safety and support agriculture through extensional services.” The DG said.
The partnership between USAID and Bio Foods aims to leverage their expertise and resources, working toward a future where aflatoxin contamination is substantially reduced within the Kenyan Dairy Industry.