Aflatoxin M1 levels in different marketed milk products in Nairobi, Kenya

Milk is an important source of energy and nutrients, especially for children, and in Kenya, milk consumption is higher than other countries in the region. One major concern with milk is the risks of chemical contaminants, and reports of high levels of aflatoxin M1 (AFM1) in milk in Kenya has been causing public health concerns. This study collected marketed milk products every month during 1 year, just as a consumer would purchase them from retailers and traders in a low-income area, and a major supermarket in a middle/high-income area. In total, 291 sampled milk products (raw, pasteurised, UHT milk, yoghurt and lala) were collected and analysed for AFM1 using a commercial ELISA kit. More than 50% of the samples exceeded 50 ng/kg (the level allowed in the EU), but only three samples exceeded 500 ng/kg (the level allowed in the USA). Geometric mean AFM1 level was 61.9 ng/kg in the 135 samples from the low-income area while it was 36.1 ng/kg in the 156 from the higher income area (p < 0.001). The levels varied significantly depending on the time of year, with lowest levels of milk in January. There were also differences between manufacturers and products, with UHT milk having lower levels. There was no difference depending on the price for all dairy products, but when only including milk, higher price was associated with lower levels of AFM1. In conclusion, this study shows that milk purchased by a consumer is likely to contain AFM1 above 50 ng/kg, and that further research is needed to find ways to mitigate AFM1 contamination through working with farmers and milk processors both in the formal and informal sectors.