By Gatonye Gathura
Cereals from Nyamakima market in downtown Nairobi are safest for human consumption; compared to similar produce from Gikomba and Githura outlets.
Recent laboratory analysis of wheat, millet and sorghum samples collected from the three major cereal markets in Nairobi lists produce from Nyamakima as safest for human consumption.
The samples were tested for the cancer-causing and kidney-killing toxin called Ochratoxin A or OTA and found no detectable contamination in produce collected from Nyamakima.
The work has been carried out by researchers from Kenyatta University and the Coffee Research Foundation of Kenya with results published last week (2nd August 2018) in the Journal of Food Research.
The report showed cereals from Gikomba had highest levels of contamination followed by samples from Githurai market.
“However OTA levels in samples from Nyamakima outlet were below the detection limit,” says the new report.
This, the study attributes to well designed and maintained storage facilitates in Nyamakima such that cereals are not exposed to moisture thus reducing the chances of OTA contamination.
The results show wheat grains as the most contaminated in both Gikomba and Githurai followed by sorghum and then finger millet. Cereal samples from Gikomba outlet had a higher contamination than those from Githurai outlet.
Though cereals might have originated from different sources, selling and storage structures in Gikomba, the report says were poorer than in Githurai.
“This made the grains more susceptible to attack by ochratoxigenic mold due to exposure to mold growth conditions.”
Due to congestion and leaking structures in Gikomba, cereals are more exposed to moisture, making a favourable growth environment for fungi leading to higher production of OTA.
Storage and selling structures in Nyamakima, the report says are properly roofed and maintained than in the other markets, reducing the likelihood of molds growth.
Another factor that could have contributed to this variation is the source from which grains are obtained.
While all the samples had OTA contamination levels lower than maximum allowable limits in the European Union and United Kingdom long time exposure, the study warns can have serious health risk to consumers