60,000 school kids at risk after eating toxic food aid

October 27, 2011 3:00 pm


Thousands of Kenyans were affected by famine in parts of Kenya/ File
NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 27- At least 60,000 school going children are facing a health risk after consuming aflatoxin contaminated Unimix, supplied by two local millers under the Kenyans4Kenya initiative.

Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet on Thursday confirmed that 362 metric tonnes of Unimix, a high protein food that comprises maize and soya which is fortified with vitamins and minerals supplied by Proctor & Allan and Sai Millers as famine relief, had been recalled.

He said the food was in the schools in parts of North Eastern, Eastern and Coast region for about three weeks before it was recalled.

“Primarily, the onus on the quality is on the producer and the miller because they are certified producers of that commodity, they have the basic fundamental responsibility. I buy in that trust, in that confidence,” Gullet stated.

“We do random checks and the random check that we did is what showed this,” he added.

Deloitte & Touche who carried out an audit on the funds raised in the four-week initiative said 1,100 metric tonnes of Unimix had so far been purchased using the finances at a cost of Sh112 million.

“There were only two companies that were used for this (supply of the nutritious food) because of the urgency of the need to purchase locally. Proctor & Allan being the largest operator had the bulk of that and supplied 798 metric tonnes then we had Sai Millers who supplied 302 metric tonnes,” Deloitte & Touche Chief Executive Officer Sammy Onyango said.

The Kenya Red Cross now says the children involved need urgent medical check up following the exposure to aflatoxin.

“They need to be medically checked and hopefully they will come out clean and if anyone has unfortunately been affected by this food, once we verify that, then we will have to deal with the issue decisively both with the producer and ourselves,” Gullet said.

Earlier, Capital News had spoken to Proctor & Allan who said the quantity of product contaminated from their end was 28 tonnes – specifically three batches no’s 236.011.1, 236.011.2 and 237.011.1.

In an email communication with the Managing Director Judy Macharia, she said the products had been recalled but they were still expecting the delivery in order to destroy them.

“The distributors are to return the affected batches. Our policy is to then incinerate using a licensed agent by NEMA (National Environment Management Authority) and supervised by our personnel and other agents like Public health officials,” she stated.

She said Unimix is used to fight malnutrition and is ideally distributed in drought stricken areas.

“Proctor & Allan made a commitment to replace the Unimix and we have every intention to honour it. We are in consultations with the distributors to have this process hastened,” she said.

She however stated that the source of contamination was unknown and said there was a possibility of contamination during handling in the distribution chain and or in the storage.

“The preliminary indications are that this is an isolated case involving only these three batches. Proctor & Allan (EA) Ltd has embarked on identifying the root cause, so that corrective and preventive measures are taken to ensure similar incidences do not recur,” she told Capital News in the communication.

However, Gullet disputed this saying, “You can’t say it was destroyed along the way because there were no rains. So certainly there is a problem and we need to address the problem. There is no hide and seek and there are contractual obligations between the purchasers in this case the Red Cross and the millers.”

“And by the way you should know that it is not only Red Cross that bought this food, there are other agencies out there and we have highlighted this problem to some of them that we know,” he added.


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