Effect of Vegetable Commercialization on Food Safety
Keywords:Commercialization, Agrochemicals, Chemical residues, Producers, Consumers
The commercialization of fresh vegetables is crucial in enhancing revenues from commercial vegetable farming and ensuring reliable supply of high-quality produce for consumers. However, this is only guaranteed under ethical application of agrochemicals beyond which can lead in a more pronounced public health as well as environmental hazards. The present paper sought to examine the influence of commercialization on food safety. Vegetable samples weighing between 1 to 2 kg were purchased from randomly selected producers in two major producing counties (Kiambu and Kirinyaga) in Kenya. All samples were freeze-dried and stored in an ice chess box, to minimize contamination. Then the samples were labeled, and transported to the laboratory for processing and testing. All approved samples were subjected to the QuEChERS preparation method for pesticides and quantified using gas chromatography equipped with mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Lab results tested positive for 13 problematic pesticides including known carcinogens and highly hazardous agrochemicals such as Malathion, chlorothalonil and chlorpyrifos. The most common agrochemical was carbofuran (67%) in terms of insecticide. For the case of fungicides, the most common was mancozeb (60%) and metalaxyl (58%). Food safety issues are caused mainly by not observing preharvest intervals, excessive application of chemicals and use of illegal agrochemicals. Chemical residues in food mainly results in carcinogenic diseases (43 to 49%), stomach related problems (15 to 19%), eye related problems (10 to 15%), and skin related problems (11 to 14%) and breathing difficulties (10 to 12%). This study demonstrates that there is a problem of agrochemical use and food safety concerns and kale and tomato value chain.
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