Gov't Orders Recall & Destruction of Contaminated Maize Flour Circulating in the Market

Ezra Manyibe | 1 week ago
File image of a bowl of maize flour. |Photo| Courtesy|

The Ministry of Health has issued a directive to county health officers regarding a popular maize flour brand that is contaminated.

Director General of Health Dr Patrick Amoth in a letter copied to the Kenya Bureau of Standard (KEBS) and health officers in the 47 counties flagged Sherehe GSM maize flour for high levels of aflatoxin.

"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 714ppb," the letter reads in part.

Dr Amoth directed Nairobi County Officers to halt further production and distribution of the contaminated flour.

The health DG similarly ordered confiscating and destroying all the Sherehe GSM flour circulating in the market.

This comes a month after the United Grain Millers Association warned Kenyans of high aflatoxin in the Ugandan maize circulating within the country.

Speaking to a local tabloid on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, the association's chairman Kennedy Nyagah revealed that they had flagged consignments of maize imports from Uganda at the Busia border point which tested for high levels of aflatoxin.

“We have had to turn away Ugandan maize on account of being contaminated with aflatoxins. Nevertheless, locally sourced stock is well dried, but we are worried that after we reject this Ugandan stock, it will still end up in the local market,” he said.

Nyagah further stated that the millers opted to refrain from milling maize coming out of Uganda.

"Our aflatoxin testing machines have picked worrying trends in the Uganda cereals to a tune of over 200 parts per billion, as opposed to the recommended ten to twenty parts per billion in the Comesa region,” he explained.

Nyagah expressed concerns that despite the country having two state-of-the-art machines that can remove aflatoxin in maize by up to 98 per cent, untested grains are still finding their way to the market.

In February this year, the Canadian government donated the two machines worth about Ksh190 million through TradeMark Africa (TMA) to help boost food security in the region. One of the machines was set up in Nairobi while the other was set up in Bungoma, a few kilometres from the Busia border point.

“We are working with KEBS at the border to clear this mess, and it is suspicious since it is so cheap to buy maize from Uganda and bring it here, so that points to something sinister and there is a need to check on that,” Nyagah noted.

He further highlighted that Kenyans getting their flour from posho mills will most likely be affected if they are sold unexamined maize.

“Given the hard economic times, many Kenyans may not be able to purchase properly examined maize flour, and the possibility of consuming aflatoxins in their meals are high,” he says.

Aflatoxin is a poisonous substance produced by fungi in cereal crops.

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