Tests commissioned by the Daily Nation show that ready-to-eat chicken in some fast food joints is contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, staphylococcus, Enterobacteriaceae, and coliforms and chemicals that could cause cancer. It also tested positive for sodium metabisulphite, a preservative that scientists say can cause cancer if consumed in large amounts. Sodium Metabisulphite should not be present in meat, it is only found in processed food, and only in small amounts. Its presence in fresh meat means that it is being used to prolong shelf life.
Cases have also been reported whereby meat especially beef is preserved by formalin, a chemical used to preserve bodies in mortuaries. The chemical soaks into the mat and cannot be washed off, therefore people should avoid butcheries that do not attract houseflies, because they avoid this kind of meat. This is according to Dr. Wahome, who is a toxicologist from Meru Level Five Hospital.
Bad cooking and hygiene practices which indicates that the meat has come into contact with fecal matter, as well as laxity in the public health standards, are to blame for these cases.
Unfortunately, vegetables are also affected. Spinach was found to contain high levels of coliforms and Enterobacteriaceae. Fruits and vegetables have also been found to contain pesticide residue and heavy metals.
It is suspected that some farmers are using untreated sewage water to grow their crops. The Daily Nation found a farm where this is practiced; one kilometer off the Njru-Ruai road in Kasarani Constituency in Nairobi. Maize, sukuma wiki, spinach, managu, and other crops are grown there and they are watered with water from the Nairobi River, which is full of sewage. Most agricultural production in urban and peri-urban areas is done along riversides using contaminated water which consequently hinders people to diversify their diets.
Produce that is sold on the roadside is contaminated with pollution, lead, and dust.Everyone is at risk of being affected by contaminated food. However low-income earners are likely to be more affected as they cannot afford to buy produce from expensive outlets such as supermarkets, where produce contains a lower level of contaminants as compared to that from open-air markets.
Taking precaution is paramount in order to minimize risk. Ensure that you have cleaned your hands after using a toilet, boil your drinking water, do not buy milk from unlicensed vendors, cook your food properly, wash the meat before cooking, avoid buying food that is sold in a dirty environment and wash your vegetables before cooking.