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Kenyan experts train maize millers on dangers of aflatoxin

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan maize millers on Wednesday kicked off aflatoxin testing training to enhance poisonous-free consumed grains.

Experts from the University of Nairobi said the training is important because aflatoxins, found in grains such as maize and other cereals have been reported to cause liver cancer, delayed development and stunted growth in children.

Sheila Okoth, Professor of Botany from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nairobi said the training is meant to empower the millers on the importance of their role in keeping aflatoxin away from the flour they mill.

“We are training millers to know that the grains consumed daily have to undergo testing to ensure that no poisonous compounds harmful to health occur in food processed for human consumption,” Okoth said during the training at the university.

Okoth who is co-principal investigators of aflatoxin proficiency testing and control in Africa noted that the millers are being trained on measuring and managing aflatoxin risk to increase global food safety as a way of saving people from contracting cancer.

According to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), besides maize and other crops, the toxics also affect feedstuffs, which then contaminate milk, meat and eggs.

Kenya is one of the world’s hotspots for aflatoxins, with what is believed to be the highest incidence of acute toxicity ever documented.

Kenya suffered severe outbreaks of illness from aflatoxins in 2004 and 2010, poisoning more than 300 people in the 2004 event alone, and killing more than 100 of them, according to health ministry.

Bernard Aduda, the Principal College of Biological and Physical Sciences told millers to value human life since health is critical for the development of any given country.

“You have a role to help reduce the deaths of Kenyans from cancer, a disease that has claimed many people lately,” he added.

Millers from Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, three major cities in Kenya, are attending the aflatoxin proficiency testing training that is in its third year in Africa.

During the training, a collaboration of UoN and Texas A and M University, participants learnt sources of variability in measuring aflatoxins, working controls and control charts and how to perform aflatoxin analysis using the equipment selected by their firm.

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