Nutritional and safety quality of street foods in Korogocho and industrial area of Nairobi, Kenya
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Street foods are a common source of food eaten outside the home, which are sold by vendors in markets, construction sites and along the streets. In the last decade, Kenya had a rapid increase in the urban population, thus increasing the demand for the street foods. A large proportion of the urbanites consist of job seekers and low income earners who are the main consumers of street foods yet, there is very little information regarding street foods consumption in Kenya. This study was therefore carried out to determine the safety and nutritional quality of street foods consumed by the low income population in Nairobi city. A descriptive, cross - sectional study, with an analytical component was carried out between the months of January and October 1999. It covered two study areas namely; Korogocho- a slum area and an Industrial area - commercial area, surrounded by low income residential areas. In this study, 96 vendors were interviewed and observed and a total of 72 food samples analysed in the laboratory for microbial load and nutritive value. 138 consumers were interviewed and observed for consumption patterns. The nutrients analysed in the laboratory were; proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamin C and iron, whereas vitamin A was computed from the food composition tables. The specific pathogens analysed in the laboratory were; Clostridium perfringens, Staphyloccocus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Salmonella, Shigella and Entamoeba histolytica. While Escherichia coli, coliforms and aerobic plate counts were used as indicator tests for feacal matter contamination and general hygiene. For analysis of the data, SPSSwin.computer programme was used for the descriptive statistical analysis; Cut-off points were used to determine the safety level of microbial loads. For nutritive value the recommended daily allowance for the study nutrients was used as cut off points. Results from the study showed that 77% of the vendors were females with the majority of them coming from the Luo ethnic group. Approximately 56% of the consumers were males and a larger proportion of them were from the Kikuyu ethnic group. Majority (71%) of the consumers resided in the low income areas and most of them preferred consuming street foods for their lunclr and snacks ( 50 and 35% respectively), with only 14.5% having street food for breakfast and 6.5% having it for dinner. It was evident from the study that some street foods provided adequate supply of nutrients for the adult consumers. High contents of carbohydrates were derived from ugali and chapati. Proteins were derived from fried fish and fish products, while fats came from chicken skin and mara. The rich sources of vitamin C and A were sukuma wiki and fruit salads, while roasted mutura was a rich source of Iron. Majority (75%) of the highly contaminated foods by pathogens, were foods prepared and sold on site with a greater proportion (85% )of the food samples coming from Korogocho area (p=0.001). This significant difference was attributed to the low levels of environmental sanitation and unavailability of social amenities. The hypothesis that the degree of microbial contamination varies with type of food was supported in this study, whereby high aerobic plate counts were noted in potatoe based foods in compared to cereal and grain products (p=0.007). S. aureus counts were high for meat, poultry and eggs relative to levels in other food groups (p= 0.021). As for E. coli, counts were high for meats, poultry and eggs (p=0.025).This was a clear indication of faecal contamination on these foods. The high levels of coliforms in the meats was however an indication of poor sanitary conditions around the vending site. The study identified the major physiological problems experienced by consumers as stomachaches, diarrhoea and vomiting, which were found to originate from consuming street foods that had been highly contaminated with E. Coli(> J 06), C. perfringens(> J 05), and S. aureus (> 106). The street foods that had low levels of nutrients and high bacterial contamination were due to improper food handling practices and poor methods of food preparation and storage. Its recommended that for adequate supply of nutrients, there ought to be an increase in the amounts of servings per consumer and proper food combination. Also to minimize the high microbial counts on foods, it is recommended that there should be simple but efficient storage facilities for the left over foods. Action should be taken to ensure that there is proper environmental sanitation, personal hygiene and good food handling practices by both vendors and consumers. The government should ensure that the social amenities are adequately supplied in these areas if the quality of the street foods is to be improved in terms of nutrient availability and safety.