Government warns over toxic peanut butter

Peanut butter on bread. The Kenya Bureau of Standards has lifted its ban on Nuteez peanut butter following a probe on aflatoxin contamination. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Jetlak Foods, who produce Nuteez, however issued a statement saying that they had not received any letter or correspondence from the Interior Ministry, who raised the flag over the toxic levels.

Your favourite spread of peanut butter could be poisonous. The government, through the Interior Ministry has issued a warning that a popular brand of peanut butter is not fit for human consumption.

A certificate of analysis shows that Nuteez peanut butter failed to pass intricate test analysis conducted on a sample taken to the government chemist.

In the report, a government chemist who signed the analysis noted that the sample is not fit for human consumption as it has surpassed the required limit of aflatoxin allowed in such products.

“The peanut butter exceeds the maximum required limit for total aflatoxins, hence not fit for human consumption,” read the certificate of analysis.

The letter explained that the number of aflatoxins found in the product was more than double the maximum limit.


Director of Public Health Kepha Ombacho Thursday ordered batch number of the peanut butter to be removed from the market and submitted for testing.

“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,” read the internal memo from Dr Ombacho.

He further directed for increased surveillance on compliance of all food stuffs to relevant food safety standards and regulations.

According to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), aflatoxins are toxic chemicals produced as by-products by fungi (moulds) that grow on maize, cottonseed, groundnuts and other food crops.

These toxins also affect feedstuffs, which then contaminate milk, meat, and eggs. Maize and milk being so important in Kenyan diets, their contamination with aflatoxins poses a large threat to public health.

People can be exposed to aflatoxins by eating contaminated plant products or by consuming meat or dairy products from animals that ate contaminated feed. Exposure to aflatoxins is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer.

Kenya is one of the world’s hotspots for aflatoxins, with what is believed to be the highest incidence of acute toxicity ever documented.


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