Watch out, you could be consuming antibiotics in meat

Slaughtered chicken at an eatery in Burma Market. There are fears that residents are getting exposed to antibiotics through beef and chicken. [File, Standard]

Lunchtime and early evening see fast food outlets in the city bustling with people, with chips and fried chicken among the most popular meals ordered.

And it is not uncommon to see grown-ups eating greasy chips and sausages at one of these fast food joints on Moi Avenue.

Countless others frequent popular eateries like City Market and Burma and Kenyatta Market. But health experts are raising concerns that many city residents are getting exposed to antibiotics through beef and chicken in many eateries, leading to antimicrobial resistance.

Victor Yamo of the World Animal Protection says while international and national brands of food outlets in the city ensure they play by the rules governing the amount of residue and antibiotics used in the animals they buy for food, a host of many others have no proper regulation plan.

“The problem is not just antimicrobial resistance, but also residue and the biggest culprits are poultry and beef products that are being sold in most of these non-formal markets within the city,” says Dr Yamo.


He further notes an average branded eatery will get chicken from quality system control outlets which adhere to international standards.

Consumers Union, a US organisation, noted in a statement about this that humans are at risk both due to potential presence of superbugs in meat and poultry.

The bugs can transmit their genetic immunity to antibiotics to other bacteria, including bacteria that make people sick.

Yamo adds that with unregulated residue in the food, it means those who eat the food are being fed on subliminal doses of antibiotics, which lead to bacterial resistance in the body.

“When you get sick and are put on treatment, the bacteria has developed resistance,” he says.

Yamo states that it is a fact that 65 to 70 per cent of new and emerging diseases are from animals.

Last week, Tennyson Williams, the Africa director for World Animal Protection, said, “The inappropriate and widespread use of antibiotics and animals and humans poses a growing threat of antibiotic resistance that is widely recognised as a major global public health problem. Increased antibiotic resistance has the potential to endanger both human and animal health on a global scale.”

Yamo states that in Kenya the authorities have failed where regulation is concerned and that “Kenya is a country where a layman cannot practice law but can open a veterinary shop and sell products”.

Just as the report states: “The Kenya Veterinary Association found that 78 per cent of veterinary medicine outlets are operated by people not considered legally qualified for the position.”