by Ejidiah Wangui
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Aflatoxin infestation continues to be a threat to
Kenya’s food security as confirmed by a recent study by
Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
The research concluded that most Kenyan households were
consuming unprecedented levels of aflatoxin, a
carcinogenic substance, hence putting their lives in danger
while hampering efforts to reduce the country’s growing cancer
The study focused on maize, sorghum and milk, which are
critical staples in both rural and urban households.
Led by Johana Lindahl of ILRI, the researchers also
attributed poor development among children living in Dagoretti
and Korogocho slums of Nairobi to consumption of cereals
infested with aflatoxin.
"Over 41 percent of children who consumed cereals infested
with aflatoxin were found to be stunted and underweight," noted
the research findings.
Of concern is the lack of awareness on the dangers of
consuming aflatoxin-infested staples as many Kenyans residing in
these areas purchase flours from kiosks where storage and safety
are not given priority.
Mary Odhiambo, a mother of three and a resident of Dagoretti,
one of the regions where the research was conducted, confessed
her ignorance of aflatoxin, saying it was an alien term that
hardly swayed her choice of maize flour or sorghum.
"What else would I feed my children with, if not porridge and
ugali, most of us here can not afford any other food apart from
maize and sorghum, we hope the government will do the necessary
to safeguard our livelihoods," noted Mary.
Researchers from Kenya, Japan, Sweden and the United States
have expressed worries that the aflatoxin menace was slowly
turning into a disaster that threatened millions of lives.
They analyzed samples collected from over 400 food retailers
in Dagoretti and Korogocho.
The researchers also noted that exposure to aflatoxin is
rampant in raw milk that is heavily consumed by low-income urban
To minimize infestation, researchers urged the government and
private sector to invest in modern storage technologies and
promote awareness targeting small holder farmers.
"Farmers, traders and the general public need to be educated
on the dangers of aflatoxin to the environment and human
health," said the researchers
Their findings correlated with a recent study conducted by
Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) that revealed a quarter
of pregnant women in Western Kenya were consuming toxic levels