Avoid mycotoxins-contaminated food Handeni,Kilindi residentschallenged

31Jul 2020
Felix Andrew
The Guardian
Avoid mycotoxins-contaminated food Handeni,Kilindi residentschallenged

​​​​​​​VILLAGERS in Handeni and Kilindi districts in Tanga region have been challenged to avoid consuming food contaminated by mycotoxins which is dangerous to their health and welfare of society.

Principal Food Safety officer at Tanzania Bureau of Standards, Dr Candida Shirima made the call yesterday when speaking during an awareness campaign conducted in the two districts.

TBS embarked on a campaign to build capacity of the said residents regarding mycotoxins, its effects and ways to avoid it.

Dr Shirima said that the campaign was conducted in the area because of its  geographical situation which poses risks of producing mycotoxin fungus in crops particularly maize and groundnuts so it was important for residents to understand ways of controlling it.

She said TBS has been implementing various strategies to fight the fungus challenge to protect health of consumers and enable them to conduct food trade.

She explained that the bureau has taken such step of educating the public particularly in this harvest season to enable them to follow all regulations needed in the value chain of production.

According to her, mycotoxins is a toxic that is produced by fungus in cereal mostly affected are maize and groundnuts.

Mycotoxin can be produced in crops at different stages from farms and after harvest in case they are not properly stored or during transportation, processing or preservation.

Experts from TBS conducted awareness education on mycotoxins to students in primary and secondary schools and the community in Kilindi and Handeni districts.

The campaign was conducted in schools, markets, auction marts, village meetings, clinics and other business premises.

 She called for potential mitigation measures to control food contamination from mycotoxin since the poison has so far affected the health and lives.

World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics show that approximately 600 million people worldwide, as well as 1 out of 10 people suffer every year from eating unsafe food.

Of the number, 420,000 people die and between them, 125,000 are children under five years.

“Unsafe food can cause health effects such as diseases and even death if the patient does not get proper and timely treatment.

Many diseases arising from unsafe food are largely affected by low awareness of the community about food safety issues and therefore not taking into account the principles of access to safe food,” said Dr Shirima.

It is estimated that 208 million people in Africa depend on maize as a source of food. Out of 22 countries in the world, where maize forms the highest percentage of calorie intake, 16 are in Africa.

“The symptoms for people who have eaten contaminated food and a large amount of sulfur include, abdominal pain, vomiting, swelling of the stomach, fever, diarrhea and convulsions which can lead to death.

Dr Shirima called upon stakeholders in the food value chain to consider safety of food products at all the stages.

Speaking, some residents in the two districts thanked the government for the  awareness campaign on food safety. They promised to be good ambassadors in educating others who did not get a chance to attend in the awareness campaign.

A resident from Handeni district identified as Amina Salehe  said that she would follow all procedures taught during the campaign to control mycotoxin in her crops. 

For their part students in primary and secondary schools said they would convey the message to their parents to enable families consume safe food.

Dr Shirima allayed fears among consumers that they should follow all instructions given by experts  in preparation of food from the farm to the table.