Survey: Kenyans worried about safety of food

Thursday, July 8th, 2021 00:00 |
Executive Director of Consumer Grassroot Association Alice Kemunto briefs the press on the report of a survey on food safety. The report was launched in Nairobi on Tuesday. Photo/PD/Njenga Kungu

Residents of Kirinyaga, Kajiado and Nairobi counties are concerned about the safety of their food and are worried that authorities are not doing enough to address their fears.

The poll carried out by the Consumer Grassroots Association (CGA) revealed that sanitation in markets and hygiene standards during food transportation and preparation are the top issues that the consumers are worried about.

According to the survey, 67 per cent of the respondents felt that their sources of food such as supermarkets, open-air markets, mama mboga stalls and farms do not guarantee the safety of food.

Those who buy their food from major supermarket chains had the highest level of confidence in the safety of food followed by those who get their food from neighbourhood supermarkets.

Majority of those who bought the food from mama mbogas, direct from farmers and open-air markets had no confidence in the safety of their food.

Nairobi scored 30 per cent, Kajiado 32 per cent and Kirinyaga 44 per cent in the level of confidence in food markets.

“CGA carried out the perception survey to contribute to the local body of knowledge on food safety, a global concern that is increasingly gaining prominence in Kenya,” said Alice Kemunto, the Executive Director.

The survey shows that 55 per cent of the respondents were very worried, 33 per cent slightly worried while 12 per cent were not worried about the safety of their food.

Further, 66 per cent of respondents felt food safety was not guaranteed in production and transportation.

Respondents from Kirinyaga County expressed the highest level of confidence at 41 per cent followed by Kajiado at 33 per cent and Nairobi at 28 per cent.

The methods consumers use to ensure food safety were similar in all three counties including washing food thoroughly before cooking, ensuring food is properly cooked and buying from trusted suppliers.

“It’s important to note that these practices are useful in reducing contamination.

However, food safety should be assured from production as in some instances washing and cooking does not eliminate chemical contamination,” explained Food safety project officer at CGA Angela Atieno.

Marketing issues

Respondents were also asked about their perceptions about how county governments were managing food safety issues, considering that food production and marketing issues were largely a devolved function.

Some 89 per cent of respondents felt the counties were not doing enough to ensure food safety. 

Only nine per cent of respondents were aware of existing or proposed food safety policies and laws.

The survey also sought to find out the level of awareness among consumers on one of the most pressing food safety issues – pesticide use.

Most consumers, the survey reveals, were not aware of the issues with only 36 per cent having received information about pesticides and human food safety concerns in the past year.

The trend appeared to be the same across the three counties with Kirinyaga leading in awareness and Nairobi the lowest.

According to the survey, consumers receive information on pesticide use/misuse as well as other food safety issues through multiple channels.

The leading sources of information by percentage of respondents are non-governmental organisations (37 per cent), social media networks (30 per cent), agrovet operators (15 per cent), county governments (11 per cent) and the national government (7 per cent).

Key interventions proposed in the study include public education and awareness creation, implementation, enforcement and regular monitoring of laws and policies regarding food safety as well as development of reporting mechanisms.

The survey involved 9,592 consumers which comprised 54 per cent male and 46 per cent female aged 18 to 50, with the majority being 18 to 35 years of age.

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