Six out of ten peanuts sampled in the Kenyan market have aflatoxin, a research institute has revealed.
The high level of toxin is found in peanuts and other Kenyan staples such as wheat, maize, fodder, feed ingredients, and baby food.
According to the International Livestock Research Institute research under the animal and human health programme, animal feeds were the most non-compliant.
Research shows that the feeds registered at least an aflatoxin level of 64 percent. This is above the Kenyan and US standards.
With a sample size of 1,819 animal and human food, the results obtained from different laboratories countrywide showed that most Kenyans and the animals in Kenya had been exposed to the mycotoxin several times.
This kind of exposure can lead to acute poisoning, immune deficiency and cancer.“
There is an urgent need for enhanced and consistent surveillance of the dietary mycotoxin hazards observed in this study employing representative sampling plans,” the researcher recommends.
“Regulation and future research need to focus on reliable analysis techniques, collection of data on toxicological effects of Mycotoxins and food consumption pattern, regulatory limits accordingly set, and compliance enforced to protect vulnerable groups such as paediatric, geriatric and sick members of the society to reduce the cancer burden in Kenya,” the study states.
Previous studies have shown a high level of harmful pesticides in the sukuma wiki and peas consumed countrywide.
Over the years, World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued an alert on consuming food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances.
The alert intimates the relationship between the contaminated foods and at least 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhoea to cancer.
Global statistics indicate that one in ten people get ill after consuming contaminated food, while 420,000 people die due to food-related illnesses annually.
The most vulnerable are children under the age of five, who constitute 40 percent of the food-borne diseases.
WHO has issued an advisory to Kenya to adhere to the guidelines to avoid mycotoxin contamination during the post-harvest phase.
“Buy grains and nuts as fresh as possible while making sure that the foods are stored properly, kept free of insects, dry, and not too warm, and that one should not keep foods for extended periods before being consumed,” it adds.