KENYA – The department of Public Health has issued a recall of peanut butter from the market, said to be contaminated with aflatoxins, life-threatening carcinogens that makes food unfit for human consumption.
In a letter issued on January 31, the department said the Nuteez Peanut Butter, produced by Jetlak Foods had aflatoxin levels which were more than double the set standards.
According to Director of Public Health Kepha Ombacho, the government had withdrawn batches of the said-to-be contaminated products from the market, which will be subjected to random tests.
A confirmation from the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government indicated that test results from the Government Chemist Department showed Nuteez Peanut Butter brand had 24.08ppb total aflatoxin.
“The purpose of this circular is to inform you that the referred batch number of the peanut butter should be removed from the market and all other batches of the same product sampled and submitted to the laboratory for analysis to ensure safety.
Further, scale up surveillance on compliance of all food stuffs to the relevant food safety standards and regulations should be sustained,” read the letter signed by Kepha M. Ombacho, Director, Public Health.
The East African Standard (EAS 74), perpetually used in Kenya upholds maximum aflatoxin level of 10 ppb for peanut butter, which also should be free of pathogenic organisms.
Jetlak Foods has since denied the possibility of contamination of the peanut butter brand, terming it a strategy by competitors to gain leverage in the market.
The Managing Director of the company, Anup Bid in a statement to allay fears over the 800g peanut butter said they were yet to receive an official inquiry from the government and would therefore initiate an investigation into the matter.
“We wish to reassure our esteemed customers that Jetlak Foods Limited prescribes to the highest standards of quality and we remain committed to manufacturing the best quality products,” said Anup Bid.
Peanuts, among cassava, chilies, corn, cotton seed, millet, rice, sorghum, sunflower seeds, tree nuts, wheat, staple products that are at the risk of aflatoxin contamination.
Their processing therefore, requires attention to a strict food safety and management system (FSMS), together with substantial quality control measures to alleviate their effects on both humans and livestock.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), large doses of aflatoxins lead to acute poisoning (aflatoxicosis) that can be life-threatening, usually through damage to the liver.