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Food drink Kenya’s ugali scare: How safe is your maize flour?


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Food drink Kenya’s ugali scare: How safe is your maize flour?

Image copyright Getty Images Several well-known brands of maize flour have been taken off supermarket shelves in Kenya, after a warning about unsafe levels of a poisonous substance known as aflatoxin.This has led to widespread concern, as maize is the country’s main staple. The flour is used to prepare ugali, a cooked starchy paste the…

Food  drink Kenya’s ugali scare: How safe is your maize flour?

Food drink

food  drink Close-up of an African woman´s hands holding maize flour

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A number of well-known brand names of maize flour have been removed grocery store shelves in Kenya, after a cautioning about risky levels of a dangerous compound called aflatoxin.

This has resulted in extensive issue, as maize is the nation’s main staple. The flour is utilized to prepare ugali, a cooked starchy paste the essential components of which are just the flour and water. Maize is likewise used to prepare another conventional dish of the area, githeri, which is a mixture of maize and beans, cooked whole.

Maize is not only a common meal in most homes in Kenya however it is also a familiar food throughout east, central and southern Africa, going by different names such as nshima, sima, sadza, mealie meal or posho. In truth Africa consumes 30%of maize produced worldwide, research study programs

But it is not simply maize that is typically polluted with the toxin. In East Africa, maize, milk and groundnuts are the main sources of aflatoxin direct exposure. These are typically mixed together to make a porridge for infants and kids, putting them at specific risk of aflatoxin poisoning.

For Kenya, aflatoxin contamination is a long-standing issue. The nation is thought about a world hotspot, with occurrences of intense toxicity tape-recorded in 2004 and 2010

Food drink Maize and aflatoxin in East Africa

It is likely that an issue with food in one nation could have an impact in its neighbours, as farm produce is typically traded across borders. Currently, Uganda and Rwanda have actually banned peanut brand names imported from Kenya after the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) blacklisted them since of unsafe levels of aflatoxin.

Food drink How do you understand which flour is safe?

Kebs, which is accountable for guaranteeing the general quality of standards in industry, has suspended the licences of five brands of maize flour and purchased that they be removed from the marketplace.

These are Dola, produced by Kitui Flour Mills, Starehe made by Pan African Grain and Kifaru by Alpha Grain Limited.

The other banned brands are 210 (Kenblest Limited) and Jembe by Kensalrise Limited. All these brand names are commonly sold throughout the nation.

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Reuters

Image caption

Ugali is generally eaten with your hands.

Kebs has said that the suspension followed market surveillance and tests that developed that these brand names had more than appropriate levels of aflatoxins.

However an association representing cereal millers in the nation opposed against the ban, questioning the credibility of approaches used to check aflatoxin levels. They say other independent tests developed different results.

Certainly tests commissioned by a regional TELEVISION station for a investigative report had a various result. The report by NTV suggested that 3 various brand names, Jogoo, Jimbi and Heri, had risky levels of aflatoxin – at 13.8, 16.2 and 16.19 parts per billion (microgram per kilogram) respectively. Kebs considers quantities of more than 10 per billion in maize and other grains to be risky.

However the TELEVISION report stated its tests on the Kifaru brand name of maize flour, which Kebs has actually suspended, found it to be aflatoxin-free.

For customers, this is all confusing and it is hard to be sure that all the dozens of maize products that stay on sale are safe.

” Can someone tell me the factor regarding just the five milling companies have been recalled from the marketplace? All millers purchase maize from Kenya National Cereals and Produce Board, which is federal government owned,” Morphat Gold said on Twitter.

A person passing the name Potentash tweeted: “Frightening. We require to hold the federal government to account. They have a duty to make certain the food we eat is safe for intake.”

Numerous Kenyans likewise take grain collected from their farms to centres for milling. The NTV examination explained that this maize doesn’t fall under the auspices of the standards regulator therefore it is tough to know whether it is safe.

It has actually not helped that Kebs has not responded to these questions, though it has actually indicated to the BBC that it will be doing so at a press conference at an unspecified date.

So even with the suspension of the maize brands, there is still trigger for the customer to be cautious and alert.

Food drink What is aflatoxin and why should you care?

Aflatoxin is among a group of naturally taking place toxic compounds, called mycotoxins, produced by specific kinds of mould or fungis.

Aflatoxin is among the most harmful of the mycotoxins and has gained the most attention since of its incident in food and its severe effects on human health, according to the UN World Health Company (WHO).

The harmful fungi that produce it flourish in warm and wet environments, growing in soil, rotting greenery, hay and grains.

WHO estimates that about 25%of food produced internationally is destroyed every year since of aflatoxin contamination – and there have been reports of Kenya destroying tonnes of maize for this reason.

Food drink What kind of food is most likely to be infected?

Besides maize, crops that are often affected are cereals such as rice, sorghum, millet and wheat. Cassava, nuts and oilseeds, including groundnuts, cotton seeds, sunflower and coconut, are also regularly contaminated.

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Groundnuts are a common food in East Africa.

Spices and herbs such as coriander, turmeric, ginger might likewise be affected. Some fruits, veggie oils and fats, as well as milk and eggs from animals fed with polluted feeds, could likewise be ways people can get aflatoxin poisoning.

Food drink How does it impact people and is it lethal?

Internationally, deaths arising from aflatoxin contamination are unusual. However yes, aflatoxin usage could be fatal.

In 2004, more than 80 Kenyans died from taking in maize that had been contaminated with a toxin-producing fungus. Another 180 were admitted to medical facilities.

At the time a doctor at Makindu hospital told the BBC that patients had symptoms of liver failure with yellow eyes, inflamed legs, vomiting and bleeding from the nose

Consuming food with hazardous levels of aflatoxin might have long-lasting negative impacts on health and might be lethal, the WHO warns.

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Reuters

Image caption

Maize is one of the most typical methods Kenyans are exposed to aflatoxins.

Aflatoxin is considered a carcinogen – something that can causing cancer. The WHO indicates the long-lasting impacts of the contaminant trigger cancer and cause immune deficiency. David Osogo, a nutrition and health researcher at Africa Population Health Research Study Center (APHRC), states aflatoxin contamination in the human body is connected to high threat of liver and kidney cancer.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) notes that the primary target for aflatoxins is the liver, with big dosages of the compound resulting in acute health problem and death though liver cirrhosis, an irreversible scarring of the organ.

Consistent small doses can affect nutrition and the immune system. Kids are thought about especially vulnerable and exposure can cause stunted and delayed development.

Some research studies also recommend that aflatoxin might hinder the advancement of an unborn child in the womb, as toxic substances pass from mother to the fetus through the placenta, according to the United States National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI). Toxic substances can also be passed through breast milk.

Food drink How do you know if a food has aflatoxin?

Insufficient drying and storage in moist conditions offers the ideal condition for mould to grow and pollute food fruit and vegetables. So it would be best to avoid food that has actually mould on it.

Image caption

Ugali can be consumed with any meat, a sauce and spinach.

However, aflatoxin is colourless, odourless and undetectable, and there is often no indication of contamination.

It also unappetizing, though a big amount of fungi might make the grain or other food taste bitter. It would be much better to avoid any food that has an unnatural or bitter taste.

The only method to evaluate aflatoxin is to do it clinically, so there is not much that you can do to physically discover the toxin.

Food drink So what can you do to avoid the toxic substance?

WHO advises consumers to do a variety of things to avoid direct exposure to the hazardous substance:

  • Carefully examine entire grains and nuts for evidence of mould and dispose of any that look mouldy, discoloured, or shrivelled
  • Get grains and nuts that are as fresh as possible. Consider those that have been grown as close to home as possible, and which have not been transferred over a very long time
  • Pick just credible brand names of nuts and nut butters as aflatoxin moulds are not completely eliminated by processing or roasting
  • While keeping food, guarantee they are stored properly and are not kept for prolonged time periods before being utilized
  • Having a diverse diet is also handy as it will reduce aflatoxin direct exposure as well as improve health and nutrition

In September, Zambia’s vice-president advised Zambians to think about dropping maize meal for a more diverse diet.

There are other grains that have greater energy and nutrient levels and are less susceptible to aflatoxin invasion. Switching to other foods might then likewise be an efficient method of addressing the issue of dietary balance and poor nutrition.

Food drink How do you avoid aflatoxin contamination?

The FAO thinks about the advancement of fungal-resistant varieties of plants as one method to manage or manage aflatoxin contamination.

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Image caption

Sorghum is likewise prone to aflatoxin contamination.

Other ways to prevent aflatoxin exposure include decreasing wetness material of plant seeds after gathering and during storage, and storing commodities at low temperature levels. Using fungicides and preservatives versus fungal growth are other options.

Kenya has actually authorized a biocontrol item, a chemical that is presented to the soil to assist minimise the amounts of the poisonous fungi that produces aflatoxin. Research studies have actually shown that the product, known as Aflasafe, reduces aflatoxin contamination and helps enhance the quality of food.

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