An exposé by NTV's Dennis Okari, that aired on July 14, 2019, showing how alleged rogue supermarket officials use chemicals to increase the shelf life of products, has been questioned by various experts.
In the investigative documentary, that has since gone viral, Okari spoke to a supermarket attendant, who disclosed that sometimes, meat is laced with food sulphites, also referred to as dawa ya nyama, to make it appear fresh longer.
However, Medical Biochemist, Yvonne Wabai, while speaking to this writer, was quick to point out that the entire clip was anti-climatic, in the sense that it never tackled the issue regarding the various chemicals and food preservative regulations.
"The news here isn't that food additives are being used, which is what #Redalert focused on. The news here is that there is no regulation for how much of a particular food additive is being used [on the ground, and not just in supermarkets], which is what I thought Dennis Okari was going to focus on," Ms Wabai asserted.
The toxicology expert also pointed out that the laboratory where the meat samples were allegedly tested raised more questions than answers, being a human pathology diagnostic laboratory, rather than a food industry or chemical analysis laboratory, going on to clarify that such a lab is never equiped with machines necessary to undertake the analysis.
Echoing her sentiments, Veterinary Surgeon, Kenneth Wameyo, expressed his disappointment with the investigative documentary, terming it as misleading.
"The laboratory where the meat samples are said to have been tested is not accredited to undertake the analysis, and it certainly does not have the technical capacity," he tweeted.
Regarding the latest statements by Health Cabinet Secretary, Sicily Kariuki, on Sodium metabisulfite (the chemical referenced in the used as a food additive), Ms Wabai response was: "I know sodium bisulfite (NaHSO3) was banned by the FDA in 1986 for use in fresh fruits and raw vegetables. Sodium metabisulfite (Na2S2SO5) was not. "
In the press release issued by the CS, the government stated that the Ministry officials had collected samples from various outlets for analysis. Adding that the chemical referenced in the documentary, was a food additive permitted for use in specified food categories, however, it was not permitted in meat and meat products, including poultry and game meat.
"Even that MOH press release is still unclear. Banned in meat and what other foods? It seems to imply it's allowed in other foods, so allowed in what amounts?" she posed.
Okari's investigative feature placed several local supermarkets under probe after it went viral.
"The definition of 'toxic'. The first lesson in toxicology: everything is poisonous, the amount is what matters. Otherwise known as "the dose makes the poison," Ms Wabai tweeted.
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