Experts want more to be done to protect Kenyans against aflatoxin-contaminated rice being sold in local markets.
Laboratory analysis of samples of rice sold in Nairobi, Mwea, and Thika shows the popular food is highly-contaminated with the cancer-causing organisms.
The evidence was presented at the annual scientific conference of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) held last month in Nairobi.
“We have established that a lot of locally-produced and imported rice contains aflatoxin-causing agents and maybe a threat to human health,” said Youmma Douksouna, the lead study author.
The team collected and tested 98 samples from retail markets and millers in Mwea and Thika regions and found much of it is contaminated with aflatoxin causing organisms.
“We are now quantifying the actual levels of the toxicants but the long-term consumption of aflatoxins at any levels is a threat to human health,” Douksouna told The Standard.
He attributed the presence of aflatoxin in rice to poor handling and packaging, sale of expired grains and long periods of storage and transportation of imports.
“Some of the imported samples had been shipped more than two years ago with the packaging already in very poor conditions,” said Douksouna.
The study that involved Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and the University of Yaounde, Cameroon, coincides with increasing police reports of expired and suspect substandard rice in the local market.