The government has confirmed the presence of aflatoxin, a poisonous substance, in peanut butter brand Nuteez, making it unfit for human consumption.
Government Chemist Francis Maina said that the peanut butter was found to be containing 24.08ppb aflatoxin, 14.08ppb more than the required limit.
“It is true that they had high levels of aflatoxin and therefore unfit for human consumption,” he said.
Jetlak Foods, who produce Nuteez, however issued a statement saying that they had not received any letter or correspondence from the Interior Ministry, who raised the flag over the toxic levels.
“As Jetlak Foods Limited, we are not in receipt of any letter or correspondence thereof from the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government and we are thus in the process of investigating the purported claim,” the statement. noted.
Ingestion of contaminated food is the main source of exposure to aflatoxins, which adversely affect the health of both humans and animals.
According to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), aflatoxins are toxic chemicals produced as by-products by fungi (moulds) that grow on maize, cottonseed, groundnuts and other food crops.
These toxins also affect feedstuffs, which then contaminate milk, meat and eggs.
They occur everywhere in the world, but pose particularly high risks in tropical developing countries which are abundant in warm and humid regions and where certain staple foods, such as maize and sorghum, comprise a large part of the diets of the poor.
With maize and milk being so important in Kenyan diets, their contamination with aflatoxins poses a large threat to public health here.
People can be exposed to aflatoxins by eating contaminated plant products (such as peanuts) or by consuming meat or dairy products from animals that ate contaminated feed.
Farmers and other agricultural workers may be exposed by inhaling dust generated during the handling and processing of contaminated crops and feeds.
Exposure to aflatoxins is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer.
“Kenya is one of the world’s hotspots for aflatoxins, with what is believed to be the highest incidence of acute toxicity ever documented. This country 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. Domestic animals that consume feeds contaminated by aflatoxins also can become sick and die,” notes ILRI.