Nairobi Eateries : Are they Healthy Enough to Eat?
Eateries are establishments that serve foods. They come in any number of form, size, location, menus and whatever other adjectives you can think of in Nairobi. Such varied choice is good, almost any budget can be catered for, meaning that most Nairobians will not go hungry regardless of their pockets.
But a cursory look at Nairobi eateries raises some health concerns for the suspicious patron. You will find lots of establishments on roadsides and on busy streets, most are temporary entrapment with no iota of health and safety, and cater mainly for the lower income groups. In the middle ground, you’ll find establishments catering mainly for the middle class. These so called nyama choma joints have all grades of quality, foods are prepared in makeshift kitchens and in all manner of standards, raising several eyebrows from a food inspector. Higher up the ladder are more formal establishments looking up to the upper middle class and above. You’ll find food standards here much closer to international guidelines, but we are talking of only a fraction of Nairobians who can afford to access such eateries.
So what’s the fuss about eateries?
There is plenty to worry about, not least food-borne illnesses which are theoretically 100% preventable. A WHO report in 2005 was clear about food-borne diseases being a problem in Kenya, with health, social and economic impacts. The burden of the problem is not easily quantifiable due to the quality of available data, but easily amenable gaps in food safety seem almost obvious.
Nairobi and all other Counties must ensure there is a Food Safety Management System in place in all establishments. This is easily entrenched with Permits and Licenses, ensuring and constantly inspecting food handling, preparation and storage in ways that prevent food-borne illnesses. This is the only way to ensure safety between the eateries and the consumers, lessening disease transmission and the associated ill effects.
Nairobians as consumers must play their part as well. There is a catchy saying that goes: ‘you are what you eat’. You can choose to eat anything and anywhere, and thereafter deal with the consequences. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Firstly, chose carefully where to buy your food, some apparent godforsaken eateries have fresher and healthier foods than their five star counterparts. Be very selective on the menus, the fresher the better. Anything frozen has potential of having incubated lethal organisms, depending on the freezing temperatures during storage. And get your orders well done (overdone may be healthier in certain cases), and simmering hot. Heat destroys most disease causing organisms, and may be your best defense where standards are low.
Finally listen to anecdotes, consumer ratings and give feedback yourself. Well-rated establishments have better quality and safety overall, this is where to go. Don’t accept second rate food standards whatsoever. Your health is paramount, and there’s always another eatery round the corner.
Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist. firstname.lastname@example.org
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