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Maize flour with high aflatoxin levels destroyed in Nakuru

Thursday February 6 2020

Aflatoxin maize flour Nakuru

Maize flour found to contain high levels of aflatoxin being destroyed at Gioto dumpsite in Nakuru on February 5, 2020 PHOTO |PHYLLIS MUSASIA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PHYLLIS MUSASIA
By PHYLLIS MUSASIA
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Thirty six tonnes of assorted maize flour brands with high aflatoxin levels have been destroyed in Nakuru.

The flour was found unfit for human consumption following a market surveillance carried out by the county government.

The county’s Public Health Chief Officer Samuel King'ori together with Medical Service Director Solomon Sirma led other officers from the Health department in destroying the consignment at Nakuru’s Gioto dumpsite.

The maize flour was seized last month from traders in Gilgil and Naivasha sub-counties.

AFLATOXIN

Dr King'ori said after several tests were done at the Government Chemist, aflatoxin levels in the flour was found to be at 115 parts per billion (ppb), which is 10 times higher than the maximum allowed limit.

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“We have been able to do this through a court order that was issued on December 20, 2019 which gave the county government permission to get rid of the harmful product,” Dr King’ori said.

The public health boss cautioned traders against stocking any products that are not fit for human consumption.

“We will raid your shops and stores, seize and destroy all those products as you proceed to face the law. We cannot afford to sit back and watch lives being endangered by traders who aim at selfish gains," Dr King'ori warned.

DESTRUCTION METHOD

The destruction of the maize flour was carried out using non-burning method to ensure there were no harmful emissions.

Dr Sirma said aflatoxin produces carcinogenic substances that can cause different types of cancer.

He noted that it can also damage the liver, leading to sudden death, as well as causing birth defects in unborn babies.

The county officials said the destroyed maize flour was the first batch of the seized contaminated foodstuff and a second batch of about 20 tonnes will soon be destroyed once all the procedures are completed.

One ton of sugar containing lead was also seized in the crackdown.

"We took samples to the Government Chemist and the results revealed the sugar has high level of lead. We are still waiting for a court order so that we can destroy the product,” Dr King'ori added.

SUSPENDED BRANDS

This comes barely over a month after the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) suspended five maize flour brands found to contain excess levels of aflatoxin.

The brands included Dola by Kitui Flour Mills, Kifaru by Alpha Grain Limited, Starehe by Pan African Grain Millers, 210 by Kenblest Limited and Jembe by Kensal Rise Limited.

In a statement, Kebs announced that it had suspended the permits for the products and instructed the manufacturers to stop selling them.

The standards watchdog also directed the affected manufacturers to recall their products from the markets and ordered supermarkets and other retail outlets to withdraw the listed products from their shelves.

Kebs noted that the suspension followed a market surveillance and multiple reports from the public.

However, some of the brands have since complied with Kebs requirements and made a comeback to the market.