To be safe from consumption of poisonous metals, residents of Nairobi are advised to avoid eating sukuma wiki bought from popular city fresh produce markets and supermarkets.
This follows a recent study conducted by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) in Nairobi that found worrying quantities of lead, copper and cadmium metals in sukuma wiki that were bought from Gikomba, Marikiti, Korogocho, Kangemi and Githurui markets and from Westlands and Lavington Naivas supermarkets.
The samples were subjected to two different lab testing one at KEPHIS and Analab to determine the presence and levels of the three metals that was found.
The lab analysis done at Kephis indicate that the kales bought from the supermarkets contained 0.13mg per kilo and 0.15mg per kilo of mercury respectively.
This is higher than the recommended World Health Organisation limits of 0.1mg per kilo. The samples from the markets had 0.007mg per kilo and a maximum of 0.1 mg per kilo, which were within WHO acceptable limits.
The level of mercury found in kales from Kariobangi market, however, was also higher at 0.11mg per kilo.
Samples from Kangemi, Gikomba, Githurai and Marikiti markets were within limits at 0.06, 0.07, 0.05 and 0.05mg per kilo respectively.
Tests carried out at Analab showed that the samples had mercury levels of 0.01mg per kilo, which is within the stipulated WHO limits. However, there were significant levels of lead in the kales from most markets in Nairobi.
Kales from Kangemi market in Westlands had a level of 0.20mg per kilo of kales, while Korogocho market in Kariobangi had 0.17mg per kilo. Githurai market had 0.08mg per kilo, and kales from Gikomba market had the highest levels of lead at 0.23mg per kilo.
The crops could have been watered by irrigate emanating from manufacturing industries, leaded paints and petroleum products oozing from industrial garages of the city.
It is a norm that many of the buyers who visit supermarkets prefer spotless leaves neatly packed on shelves without asking where they are from.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), children are the most vulnerable to lead products imperiling their brain development and nervous system.
The WHO report adds that lead causes long-term harm to adults that include high blood pressure, kidney damage and exposes pregnant women to miscarriage, stillbirth and low birth weight.
However, Agriculture CAS Andrew Tuimur said the country has good laws on food safety but its enforcement is the mess.
He however, cautioned Kenyans against growing kales at the roadsides to avoid mix with gases that may lead to lead contamination.
“Traders should ensure they transport kales in closed vehicles. Consumers should avoid buying vegetables that are sold by the roadside. Markets that are beside the roads should be enclosed or pushed far from the roads,” hesaid.