Kenya has been mapped as an aflatoxin hotspot, a leading cause of liver cancer, hiding in grains like maize and animal food products.
Findings of a study released last month by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) showed a large amount of milk and grains consumed by Kenyans have aflatoxin levels exceeding internationally accepted limit.
Aflatoxin is a tasteless poison produced by Aspergillus flavus fungus caused by a mould in soil that commonly affect cereals. It is mostly passed to humans through animal food products or direct ingestion of affected crops.
The study dubbed “Measuring and mitigating risk of mycotoxins in maize and dairy products for poor consumers in Kenya” was done from samples of of livestock feeds collected from farmers in five counties.
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation director general Eliud Kireger however dismissed the report as alarmist, saying that most Kenyans could have died if that was the case.
He however acknowledged that aflatoxin is a major threat to food security in the country, asking the government to subsidise bio-control products to tackle aflatoxin.
“The government must provide farmers with Aflasafe KE01, just the same way it subsidize fertilizer. The product effectively clear aflatoxin from soils,” said Kireger.
Public health director, Kepha Ombacho told the Star on phone that the state is conducting several activities to curb food poisoning through aflatoxin. He however, declined to comment further on the report, promising a comprehensive statement later.
The ILRI study established that Kenya had aflatoxin levels of between 0.02 parts per billion (ppb) to 9661 ppb with positive samples ranging from 75-100 per cent.