Jetlak foods Limited has responded to claims on the government statement doing rounds on social media on aflatoxin concerns.
Kenya’s government had on Tuesday issued a warning against consumption of Nuteez peanut butter saying it contains substances unfit for human consumption.
According to a report released by the government chemist, the peanut butter exceeds the maximum required limit for Aflatoxins (10ppb) hence it is not fit for human consumption.
In a report dated January 29th 2019, signed by V.G Mpekethu for government Chemist, the peanut butter has been found to contain 24.08 ppb.
The firm which produces the Nuteez peanut butter January 31st stated that it is not in receipt of any letter or correspondence thereof from the ministry of interior and coordination of National Government.
"We are thus in the process of investigating the purported claim." Said Ms Eunice Gaceri, Officer- Quality Assurance, adding that Jetlak foods limited prescribes to the highest standards of quality.
"We remain committed to manufacturing the best quality products." Ms Gaceri noted.
WHO on Aflatoxin
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), aflatoxins are poisonous substances produced by certain kinds of fungi (moulds) that are found naturally all over the world; they can contaminate food crops and pose a serious health threat to humans and livestock.
“Aflatoxins also pose a significant economic burden, causing an estimated 25% or more of the world’s food crops to be destroyed annually.” WHO says.
Food crops can become contaminated both before and after harvesting. Pre-harvest contamination with aflatoxins is mainly limited to maize, cottonseed, peanuts and tree nuts. Post-harvest contamination can be found in a variety of other crops such as coffee, rice and spices. Improper storage under conditions that favour mould growth (warm and humid storage environments) can typically lead to levels of contamination much higher than those found in the field.
Effects of Exposure to Aflatoxins
Data from Who indicates that long-term or chronic exposure to aflatoxins has several health consequences.
- Aflatoxins are potent carcinogens and may affect all organ systems, especially the liver and kidneys; they cause liver cancer, and have been linked to other types of cancer – AFB1 is known to be carcinogenic in humans; the potency of aflatoxin to cause liver cancer is significantly enhanced in the presence of infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV);
- Aflatoxins are mutagenic in bacteria (affect the DNA), genotoxic, and have the potential to cause birth defects in children; children may become stunted, although these data have yet to be confirmed because other factors also contribute to growth faltering e.g. low socioeconomic status, chronic diarrhoea, infectious diseases, malnutrition;
- aflatoxins cause immunosuppression, therefore may decrease resistance to infectious agents (e.g. HIV, tuberculosis);