What labs found in ‘mutura, kachumbari’ made in Kenya

Food experts have warned of deadly germs in most of the now popular, ‘mutura,’ or African sausages sold in Nairobi.

Kachumbari, the local vegetable salad sampled from various town in Kenya was equally contaminated.

The experts from the, University of Nairobi are warning ‘mutura’ enthusiasts in the city to be careful of what they are eating.

“It could make you very sick,” the team warns in a report published on Tuesday last week.

The researchers say more than half of cooked or uncooked ‘mutura’ sold in Nairobi are highly contaminated with disease causing germs.

“Our study shows roasted and nonroasted African sausages sold in meat outlets in Nairobi County are contaminated with Staphylococcus, Bacillus, Streptococcus, Proteus, and E. coli organisms,” says the report.

These germs, the researchers from the varsity’s veterinary department say poses serious food safety risks to consumers.

The team had collected 100 samples of ‘mutura’ from ready-to-eat vending sites and meat eatery points of Westlands market, Kangemi market and Pangani estate in Nairobi.

The team reports finding evidence of all the five type of bacteria in 80 per cent of the tested samples.

“We found, Staphylococcus spp. at 50.4 per cent, Bacillus spp. at 19.5 per cent, Streptococcus spp. 9.8 per cent, Proteus spp. 2.4 per cent, and E.coli spp. at 1.6 per cent.”

Of the three most prevalent bacteria, the authors explain they are known to produce dangerous toxins.

“They can cause a sudden onset of illness in humans within three to four hours of ingestion,” says the study.

Such infections are characterized with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as the major symptoms, says the study led by Henry Karoki Wambui.

Despite most of ‘mutura’ being prepared in unhygienic conditions, the authors say this has not prevented it becoming a finger-licking delicacy in Nairobi.

However the report says there was no significant difference in distribution of these germs across the three studied sites of Westlands, Kangemi and Pangani.

The presence of these organisms in ready-to-eat African sausages, the report says is a pointer they are processed under poor hygienic and sanitary conditions.

“Food safety enforcement authorities therefore need to scale up inspection of establishments where African sausages are prepared and sold,” says the study.

But the authors warn this may not be a Nairobi problem alone and may be the case throughout major towns in the country.

“Mutura is sold in unhygienic makeshift and roadside meat points of Nairobi and other towns in Kenya, where they are unregulated and food safety standards totally ignored.”

The growing unregulated ready-to-eat meat culture in most towns, health experts warn is a threat to public health.

Kenya has been unsuccessfully trying to stop a cholera outbreak since 2014 that has killed 421 people from 26,544 cases.

In May a report from Meru University of Science and Technology showed much of raw salad, or ‘kachumbari’ sold to accompany roast meat is also contaminated with dangerous germs.

The study: Microbiological Quality of Kachumbari, a Raw Vegetable Salad Popularly Served alongside Roast Meat in Kenya, called for stricter inspection of this popular snack.

The study published in the Journal of Food Quality reported that a worrying 46 per cent of ‘kachumbari’ being offered to customers is unfit for human consumption.

The ‘kachumbari’ samples had been collected from five towns of Meru, Nanyuki, Isiolo, Maua, and Chuka.

In the offending samples the study reported the presence of the bacteria Campylobacter spp. and E. coli.

Campylobacter causes the most common food borne infection called campylobacteriosis involving bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting.

It can be very serious in children, the old and those with low immunity or suffering from other diseases.

Some strains of E. coli cause severe food poisoning, diarrhea urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia in humans.

The sampled ‘kachumbari’ primarily contained tomatoes and onions.  Other ingredients used though to a lesser extent, are green capsicum, chilies, coriander leaves, cabbage, lettuce, and carrots.

A few samples incorporated lemon juice in the raw salad, and in rare occasions vinegar was involved.

Now the authors say while eating vegetables is an excellent dietary habit, nevertheless such should be free of disease causing germs.

Otherwise they want public health enforcement authorities to consider banning the sale of raw salads in establishments where bacteria control cannot be guaranteed.

“This study serves to caution consumers to avoid being victims of food-borne infections while indulging in this popular accompaniment of roast meat,” says the study.

Some data

1.5 billion episodes of diarrhea globally

3 million deaths globally each year

70% of diarrheal diseases caused by contaminated foods

50% of mutura in Nairobi contaminated

46% of kachumbari contaminated

421 deaths from 26,544 cholera cases since 2014 in Kenya

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