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Murang’a health officials call for proper food fortification

A team of health officers in Murang’a County has embarked on a crackdown to ensure packaged foods sold to residents meet the required nutrients value.

The team which consists of 28 Public and Health Promotion Officers, and 12 nutritionists will visit food stores, supermarkets and retail shops to ensure edible oils, flours among other commonly consumed commodities meet the fortification requirements.

Murang’a County Health Promotion Officer Mr. Danson Mwangi said the officers have been trained on how to confirm if the packaged flours, oils and salt have the required nutrients.

On Friday, Mwangi told KNA that the concerned officers will verify printed details of nutrients contained in the foods as well as take samples to be tested in laboratories.

“Sampled foods will be taken to national public health laboratories for analysis and appropriate action taken on foods which will be found lacking the required nutrients.

“We expect the county to have a food laboratory to carry out analysis to assist in testing and surveillance,” he added.

The surveillance and sampling of food is sponsored by the County government of Murang’a in partnership with Nutrition International Organization.

Mwangi explained that millers have been educated to ensure their flour is fortified adding that failure to do so is a crime.

He explained that during the exercise, nutrition and health promotion officers will enlighten the community on the benefits of consuming fortified foods.

“Public health officers on their part will enforce food fortification legislation through sampling and surveillance. This will reduce morbidity and mortality associated with micronutrients deficiency among the population,” the Health Promotion Officer further said.

Fortification of wheat flour, packaged maize meal flour, Fats and Oils was made mandatory in Kenya since June 2012 through the amendment of the Food, Drugs and Chemical Substances Act.

Mwangi observed that micronutrient deficiencies have remained a significant public health challenge in the country with the most common deficiencies being zinc, iron and Vitamin A.

The government, he detailed, has put in place four strategies to prevent, control, and manage micronutrient deficiencies, the strategies include dietary diversification, food fortification, micronutrient supplementation and disease prevention.

“Among the measures used for micronutrient deficiency intervention, fortification has been identified as the most cost effective of all health interventions,” noted Mwangi.

Fortification, the officer added, is an efficient and suitable intervention that can reach wide population coverage without changes in existing dietary patterns.

“As advocated by the WHO, it is a cost effective and safe process of adding select micronutrients to commonly consumed staple foods to improve the nutritional quality for the benefit of the consumer,” he further noted.

By Bernard Munyao

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