Study Reveals Food Fortification on Course, Aflatoxin Problem Persists

Prof. Daniel Sila (with mic) introduces his multi-organizational research team

A recent study has indicated that Kenya has made significant strides in efforts to eliminate micronutrient deficiencies through food fortification but the lingering aflatoxin problem in Kenyan staple food, maize is offsetting the Country’s bid.

The study findings were revealed during the dissemination of industry survey findings on aflatoxin and food fortification conducted under the European Union funded (EU) project; ‘Strengthening the Kenya National Food Fortification Program led by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Ministry of Health.

A concern was raised by the experts who broke down the statistical analysis of country-wide aflatoxin levels noting that the current contamination of 14.7% in maize is at an unacceptable level.

Ms. Leila Akinyi delivers her remarks during the ceremony

Speaking during the study findings dissemination ceremony held at Safari Park Hotel, May 27, 2022, JKUAT-EU Funded Food Fortification Project Coordinator, Prof. Daniel Sila, said industry surveillance was necessary in efforts to learn the state of the Kenya’s food fortification status and determine the compliance of millers.

He expressed concern over the high rates of aflatoxin in the maize flour samples saying “continued exposure to aflatoxins can cause growth of cancer cells in the human body among other diseases”.

He added that wheat flour has been determined to be safe with most millers complying to food fortification guidelines.

Prof. Sila stated that neural tubal diseases, spinal cord defects and anemia could be a thing of the past if food fortification is fully implemented in the country to curb the iodine, vitamin A, zinc, iron and folic acid deficiency.

Mr. Peter Mutua makes a presentation on premix quality and handling practices at industry and supplier levels

He reported that ever since Kenya made fortification mandatory in 2012 through Foods, Drugs and Chemical Substance Act (CAP 254, Notice No 62, June 2012), the country has made steady improvements away from mineral related deficiencies.

Leila Akinyi, Deputy Head of Nutrition and Dietetics Unit, Ministry of Health Kenya, said food fortification is a high impact nutrition intervention that has been found to be efficient and cost effective.

“The Government of Kenya has put in place efforts to ensure Kenyan’s access critical nutrients through mandatory fortification using commonly consumed food vehicles such as maize flour, wheat flour, vegetable oils and fats.”Ms. Akinyi stated

She reiterated the government’s support saying MOH has put in place measures to ensure regular monitoring and surveillance to ensure safety and compliance levels are met by fortified brands.

Mr. John Mwai, a representative from Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) said the organization has tightened the noose in order to ensure millers are complying with food fortification regulations.

He lauded JKUAT for impact driven research in fortification citing the food fortification laboratory domiciled at the University is a big boost in the Country’s efforts to implement full fortification.

Also present were milling industries, county governments, and partnering organizations.

A section of the participants

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