Reports that some crooked traders have been selling to unsuspecting consumers meat laced with dangerous chemicals, putting the lives of others at grave risk, are depressing.
An investigation by NTV has revealed that some of the nice-looking and potentially sumptuous cuts of beef and other meats that we see on display in the glass shelves at supermarkets and other upmarket outlets are the opposite of that. Buyers end up getting enticed to ferry home poison thinking that it is food, for which they are willing to part with their hard-earned money.
These findings have come as a shock to many connoisseurs of beef as they raise pertinent questions about the quality of food and safety controls. It’s only a devious mind that will manipulate the natural condition and maintain a false fresh look on meat to make a killing from what should, ideally, be discarded if it has gone by the sale date.
Quite alarming is the revelation that there are many unregulated preservatives being used in the food industry.
Ingesting these substances is a health hazard. Chemicals whose use in their country of origin was banned decades ago are readily available and in use in Kenya. The motivation is to minimise losses from spoilage to preserve the sellers’ profits. As NTV found out, the practice in rampant in Nairobi but happens elsewhere.
However, it all boils down to failure by the agencies concerned to inspect and ensure that any outlets or individuals selling food adhere to the regulations. Part of the mandate of public health officers is to ensure that meat is inspected and approved before it is sold or consumed. This, apparently, is not happening regularly or the officers are compromised to look the other way.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards, public health departments and other agencies must prevent the sale of suspect food.