KENYA – The Kenyan Ministry of Health (MOH) has issued a warning regarding Sherehe GSM maize flour, a local brand, due to elevated levels of aflatoxin.

In a letter addressed to county health officers and copied to the Kenya Bureau of Standards, the Office of the Director General for Health declared the brand unfit for human consumption.

Patrick Amoth, the Acting Director General for Health, noted in a letter dated May 6, 2024, that the aflatoxin levels in the flour brand were much higher than the recommended level of 10ppb.

The laboratory analysis on April 30 of Sherehe GSM maize flour with no batch number has shown that the flour contains a high level of aflatoxin above the requirements of 10.0 ppb. The level records 714 ppb,” read the letter.

As a result, the Health Ministry has mandated the confiscation of all existing stock of contaminated maize flour from the local market.

To safeguard the health of consumers, you are required to seize all existing stock in the market of the said brand for disposal. You are advised to scale up surveillance of all food products on the market.”

Amoth further directed Nairobi County officers to inspect the mill creating the brand in question and immediately stop the operation as well as distribution.

Additionally, the ministry has ordered increased surveillance of all food products on the market and called for regular updates on the measures taken.

They were asked to adhere to the legal provisions stipulated in the Food Drugs and Chemical Substances Act, Cap. 254, and the Public Health Act, Cap. 242.

Kenya has in the past tussled with cases of substandard maize flour brands being brought into the limelight. The major concern is due to the high levels of aflatoxin.

According to the National Cancer Institute of Kenya, aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by fungi found on crops such as maize, peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts.

The main fungi that produce aflatoxins are Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, which are abundant in warm and humid regions of the world.

People can be exposed to aflatoxins by consuming contaminated plant products or through meat and dairy products from animals that have ingested contaminated feed.

Ingesting food with aflatoxin concentrations of 1 milligram per kilogram or higher can lead to aflatoxicosis, with symptoms including vomiting, abdominal pain, fluid buildup in the lungs, and liver damage.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.