Low income food systems and food safety in Kenya: a case study of Kangemi peri-urban area
Mwangi, W. M.
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This study was a part of a large study that examined food systems and food safety in developing countries. The Kenyan study was mainly based on a case study of Kangemi village, which is a peri-urban area of Nairobi. At Kangemi, two major food systems exist. There is firstly, the typical low-income rural food systems, which mainly involve growing own food or buying locally grown food. In this system only a few essential items are purchased outside the farm, and nearly all food is prepared within the home. The major food safety problem in this system is due to inadequate drying and storage of staple food stuffs; poor practices of handling and preparing food within the home. Food safety standards in this system can be enhanced through teaching of food safety and extension of primary health care programmes. The other food system is typical of any low-income urban areas. The people here are predominantly dependent on purchased food; consisting mainly of a cereal or starchy root staple with some vegetables and pulses together with supplementary sources of animal protein and fruit. Here the main food safety problem i s due to considerable risks of deterioration, contamination and adulteration as the food moves through the distribution channel. In this system food safety standards can be enhanced through devotion of societal resources to health education to all involved in the distribution channel. As a conclusion it must be emphasised that it is seldom appreciated how widespread food contamination is, nor how tremendous are the costs it imposes to our society. This study has also indicated very clearly that at this stage of our development, food systems and food safety can be improved and enhanced significantly only through government participation as the private sector finds it impossible without causing undue financial burden to low-income consumers.