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Initiative launched to tackle aflatoxin threat in dairy industry

Global statistics show that nearly one in 10 people fall ill from contaminated food annually, particularly due to dangerous mycotoxins like aflatoxin.

An initiative has been launched to fight aflatoxin in the dairy industry.

The initiative, the “Safe Milk Kenya” project, was launched by Bio Foods through a grant from USAID,  last week.

Joachim Westerveld, Executive Chairman and CEO of Bio Food Products Ltd, emphasised the importance of creating a coalition to support farmers in producing safer and more abundant milk.

‘’The primary goals of the project are to raise awareness among dairy farmers and consumers about aflatoxin and empower farmers to minimise aflatoxin levels in their milk,’’ said Westerveld.

Aflatoxin contamination poses significant threats to both human and animal health, impacting animal productivity and exposing consumers to severe health risks, including cancer and, in some cases, death. The “Safe Milk Kenya” project aligns with Bio Foods’ mission of ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food.

The project, funded by a $240,000 commitment from the United States and nearly $300,000 invested by Bio Foods, addresses critical challenges in the dairy industry. With Kenya having the highest per capita milk consumption in sub-Saharan Africa, the initiative aims to combat limited regulatory enforcement, high aflatoxin levels in dairy products, and their adverse health impacts.

Meg Whitman, the US Ambassador to Kenya, highlighted the holistic approach of the initiative, not only addressing toxins along the milk value chain but also empowering Kenyan farmers. The more than half-million-dollar initiative is poised to make a substantial impact on aflatoxin management in Kenya.

Mary Muthoni Muriuki, the Principal Secretary of the State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards, praised the two-year project’s focus on increasing awareness of aflatoxin and its health effects among dairy farmers and consumers.

In a speech read by Dr Sultani Matendechero, Deputy Director General for Health, the PS commended local manufacturers for complementing the government’s efforts in aflatoxin management.

Muthoni highlighted major food safety concerns in Kenya, including aflatoxin contamination, pesticide residues, veterinary drug residues, food adulteration, and the use of trans-fats.

In response to these concerns, the Ministry of Health has developed the Food and Feed Safety Control Coordination Bill 2023, aiming to reform food safety in Kenya. The bill seeks to establish the office of the food safety controller and address chronic weaknesses in existing regulatory and control systems, ultimately ensuring the health and safety of consumers.

Standard Media Kenya Jan 24th 2024 by

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