twitter RSS Feed linkedin acp contact

ILRI research project to address milk poisoning in Kenya

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has commissioned a research project that will ascertain the levels of aflatoxins in the milk consumed in Kenya

Kenya milk cow aflatoxinsMore than 145 litres per person of milk is annually consumed in Kenya. (Image source: ILRI)

Kenyans consume more than 145 litres of milk per person annually increasing the risks associated with milk-related aflatoxins.

"Because of the higher milk consumption, especially by young children, pregnant and nursing women, Kenyans are likely to be more at risk from aflatoxin-contaminated milk than other Africans," said Johanna Lindahl, a food safety researcher at ILRI.

The research will determine the risks posed to such different groups of people by exposure to aflatoxin-contaminated milk. The project has been funded by the government of Finland.

Aflatoxin poisoning is produced by fungi Aspergillus, which infests grains such as maize and sorghum that have been badly stored under high moisture content. Consequently, the resultant contaminated feed leads to poisons getting into milk.

The presence of these toxins in food can harm human health and can be lethal in high doses. Kenya is among the world’s hotspots for aflatoxin-related deaths.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), about 55 per cent of the milk produced in Kenya, mainly from dairy cattle, enters the market. Of this volume, more than 75 per cent is channelled through informal market, with fewer than 30 per cent getting to processors.

Owing to the large amount of milk that is marketed unprocessed and the weak monitoring of markets, there have been concerns about public health risks from diseases and drug residues, according to the FAO. 

Preliminary results of an ILRI study conducted in urban Nairobi showed that 55 per cent of the consumers of raw milk from street stalls and milk hawkers had never heard of aflatoxins.

On the other hand, 80 per cent of consumers from middle-income areas who purchases their milk from shops or supermarkets had heard about it.

Overall, more than 50 per cent of the people who had heard about aflatoxins believed the toxins could be present in milk.

"We have been carrying out a series of participatory rural appraisals in villages to understand the current knowledge, attitudes and practices of farmers," observed Lindahl.

Across rural Kenya, smallholder dairy farmers occasionally feed decomposing grain to livestock, oblivious of the dangers they expose milk consumers.

"We are not aware rotting maize or potatoes could do harm to the milk we consume. We have always fed our cows, chicken and even goats of crop remains and spoilt grains as part of feed supplements to the main feed napier grass," observed Zipporah Njoki, a dairy farmer in Ol Joro Orok division in NyandaruaCounty, one of the main milk producing regions in the country.

At the same time, concerns have been raised on the quality of commercial livestock feed – especially on compositions and safety.

According to the FAO, about 500,000 tonnes of commercial livestock feed was produced in 2007, with most sourced from local grain producers.

The most common commercial feeds include dairy meal, dairy cubes, calf pullets, maize germ, maize bran, molasses, cottonseed cake, wheat pollard and wheat bran.

Research conducted between February 2006 and March 2007 by the Department of Public Health Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Nairobi indicated high levels of aflatoxin B1 and M1 in samples of commercial feeds and milk respectively.

Overall, researchers collected 830 animal feed and 613 milk samples from four urban centres in the country. Of these, 86 per cent of the feed samples from farmers had aflatoxinB1 with 67 per cent exceeding the FAO/WHO limit. Meanwhile, 88 per cent of the feed samples from feed millers and 87 per cent of agrochemical shops were also positive for aflatoxins.

Of the milk samples, 72 per cent of the milk from dairy farmers, 84 per cent from large- and medium-scale farmers and 99 per cent of the pasteurised marketed milk had aflatoxins, most of which exceeded the FAO limits. According to the researchers, 67 per cent of the urban smallholder dairy farmers had no knowledge that milk could be contaminated with aflatoxin M1 and neither group knew how they could mitigate against this exposure.

Feed millers knew about aflatoxin B1 in grains and excretion of aflatoxin M1 in milk, but were not alleviating exposure to animals.

In conclusion, the researchers, E. Kangeth’e and K. Langa’t, observed that there was the need to create awareness and establish routine monitoring of animal feeds and milk to reduce animal and consequently human response.

Mwangi Mumero


LATEST NEWS IN Cattle

Intracare launches the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage

Intracare launches the world’s most eco-…

Intracare, developer and supplier of products for veterinary health and nutrition, has come up with the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage, which will be available worldwide

Nutreco receives grant to provide sustainable feed solutions for small-scale producers

Nutreco receives grant to provide sustai…

Nutreco, a global animal nutrition leader, has received a US$4.8mn grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the implementation of localised, sustainable complete feed production in sub-Saharan...

Volatility: challenges in animal feeding

Volatility: challenges in animal feeding

As price volatility propels the use of alternative feed ingredients, Adisseo's team discusses how the quality of diets and the performance of animals can be maintained in such situations

Tackling transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe

Tackling transboundary animal diseases i…

To curb high impact transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development launched the animal health...

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure safety in animal food products

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure sa…

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) are working with Zambian experts to address drug resistant microbes as well as food contamination in meat...

Evonik publishes first edition of animal diet

Evonik publishes first edition of animal…

Evonik, a German-based specialty chemicals company has published the first edition of the MetAMINO ATLAS displaying the results of 15 performance trials investigating the relative bioavailability of supplementary methionine sources...

Prev Next

OTHER RELATED ARTICLES - Cattle

Tanzania grants 500 cattle to drought-effected families

Tanzania grants 500 cattle to drought-ef…

The Tanzanian government has donated 500 livestock to farming families in the Monduli district of the Arusha region as part of a US$7.1mn initiative to replenish heavy losses from the...

New opportunity for returning migrants in Burkina Faso on livestock farming

New opportunity for returning migrants i…

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the government of Burkina Faso and with funding from the European Union (EU), is supporting the establishment of livestock farmer groups...

US grant to support Zambian dairy farming sector

US grant to support Zambian dairy farmin…

A US government organisation has awarded a K730mn (US$150,857) grant to the Mongu Dairy Cooperative Society (MODACO) and the Zambia Agribusiness Technical Assistance Centre (ZATAC) to help Zambian dairy farmers...

Balancing winter ration supplementation for optimal cow performance

Balancing winter ration supplementation …

"Paying close detail to forage quality is very important to ensure that nutritional requirements of dairy herds are met," said Dr Richard Kirkland, ruminant nutritionist for Volac Wilmar Feed Ingredients

Gates Foundation awards US$8 million grant to East Africa dairy project

Gates Foundation awards US$8 million gra…

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded Heifer International an US$8 million grant to support its East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project

New vaccines to protect Kenyan livestock from infectious diseases

New vaccines to protect Kenyan livestock…

Two vaccine projects aimed at increasing food security through the development of new vaccines for cattle, sheep, swine and goats are set to be launched in Kenya

Kukula Fund 1 acquires More Beef stake

Kukula Fund 1 acquires More Beef stake

Kukula Fund 1 has announced that it has acquired 10 per cent shareholding in More Beef Limited, one of Zambia's fastest-growing agribusinesses

Namibian cattle exports set to benefit local farmers

Namibian cattle exports set to benefit l…

The Namibian government is seeking to export cattle to Angola to keep livestock production in the country profitable, while improving the livelihoods of local farmers

Livestock farmers urged to integrate crop cultivation for food security

Livestock farmers urged to integrate cro…

Namibia’s environment and tourism deputy minister, Uahekua Herunga, has encouraged livestock farmers in the country to parallelly cultivate crops to help ensure food sustainability

Reducing the threat of mycotoxins for local dairy farmers

Reducing the threat of mycotoxins for lo…

Biomin South Africa COO Albert van Rensburg pointed out that the contamination of animal feed with mycotoxins is a threat to farmers internationally

DOB Equity invests further in Tanzania’s dairy processor Tanga Fresh

DOB Equity invests further in Tanzania’s…

DOB Equity, one of the leading Dutch family-backed impact investors in East Africa, has announced further investment in Tanga Fresh, dairy processor in Tanzania

Ethiopia expects to secure worth US$12mn by exporting meat during Ramadan

Ethiopia expects to secure worth US$12mn…

The Ethiopian Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute (EMDIDI) said that it has been aiming to secure more than US$12mn by exporting meat to the UAE and Saudi Arabia during...

Prev Next