In Summary
  • Public health officials are sounding the alarm against the consumption of the toxins, which have been found to damage liver cells and cause cancer.
  • Mr Duba says the government cannot rely on the certificate of conformity from the country of origin to determine that goods are safe for consumption.

If in the past one month you have taken your favourite dawa you may have consumed toxic ginger, warn public health officers.

Dawa is a mixture of ginger, honey, lemon, hot water and garlic. The name is derived from the Kiswahili name for medicine.

According to laboratory analysis from the Government Chemist seen by the Sunday Nation, the 23,000 tonnes of ginger imported from Vietnam were rotten, dirty, moist and had moulds.

Mr Muhammed Duba, Secretary-General of the Association of Public Health Officers, said that from the laboratory results, the consignments had moulds "and we instructed that they should not be released into the market".

"We have since learnt that they were released, yet they had aflatoxins. We raised our concerns with the authorities about the ginger not being fit to be released to the market but they released it,” Mr Duba said.

The results reveal that the commodity had a foul smell and appearance, with a moisture content of 14 per cent, against a maximum limit of 12 per cent.

INSPECTION

As a result, the public health officials are sounding the alarm against the consumption of the toxins, which have been found to damage liver cells and cause cancer.

The consignment imported into the country by business people under Fairoils EPZ Limited in Nairobi in container number EGSU50117342 was meant for extraction of oil. But it was released into the market.

The health officials say a circular from the national government restricting them from inspecting imported foodstuffs, cosmetics and disinfectants is to blame for the health risks Kenyans are being exposed to.

According to the circular dated June 2019, referenced OP/CAB/9/83A, the public officers are placed in Category 1, which only allows them to go to a ship and only give a declaration that it has arrived. They are not supposed to take samples at the port.

“As from June this year, we have been at the ports as spectators. Kenyans are at the mercy of the government that decides what to bring, whether good or bad. We are not allowed to take samples for laboratory tests, as our mandate had been redefined,” Mr Duba.

MANDATE

The circular directed that in the event that the public health officers take samples of any goods that come into the country, they must seek the authority of the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

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