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That fruit could kill you

As you buy that fruit with the aim of boosting your immunity and keeping lifestyle diseases at bay, you could just be making your health worse.

The World Health Organisation has issued a guidelines on how fruits should be handled as they can serve as speedy vehicles of human diseases.

According to the food standards approved by the World Health Organisation, sliced watermelon is a breeding ground for bacteria that is likely to cause typhoid and listeria.

The report by the Codex Ailmentarius Commission, shows that the fruit’s pulp accommodates several bacteria that cause life-threatening illnesses.

Prefer sliced 

The Commission recommends that pre-cut melons should be wrapped or packaged and refrigerated as soon as possible and distributed at temperatures of four degrees centigrade or less.

“Cooling and cold-storing was recommended as soon as possible after harvest, while knife blades used for cutting or peeling should be disinfected regularly,” the report read in part.

In most city markets, the fruit stays in the store for more than a week, is taken to the market and sliced in poor hygiene standards.

Joyce Nyambura who sells watermelon at Mutindwa market said many people prefer the sliced ones especially those who want to eat them immediately,” she said.

She sells sliced melons at between Sh20 and Sh50. A full watermelon sells for Sh150 – Sh200 in the market.

Well washed 

“Almost all traders who sell watermelons in this market also sell sliced ones,” Nyambura said.

Food and nutrition specialist, Onesmus Muinde said all food handlers should observe utmost hygienic standards.

“It is recommended that all fruits should be washed preferably with warm water and anyone who handles them should wash their hands with soap to avoid contamination which leads to contracting of waterborne and foodborne diseases,” Dr Muinde said.

He said equipment such as knives, should be thoroughly washed, adding that it is recommended that fruit lovers should cut their fruits with trusted equipment, preferably at home where there is enough water.

The Codex Ailmentarius Commission recommended that watermelons be consumed as soon as they are harvested.

Other measures adopted include new food safety standards on seafood, melons, dried figs and food labelling.

But in Nairobi, people seem unconcerned about the levels of hygiene observed by those handling their food.

Dr Muinde advised Nairobians to be careful on where they buy their foodstuff adding that the quality of what they eat can be detrimental to their health.

This also applies to cooked food. In the mornings, food vendors sell mandazis and chapatis by the roadside where vehicles pass, spraying dust on the food.

“You find some parents buying these mandazis and chapatis for their children as a snack. They are cheap I agree, but the amount of money one might use for treating illnesses is just incomprehensible,” he said.

Since they make the snacks far away from water outlets, these traders, according to Mr Muinde, do not clean their utensils well.

“They handle money and food at the same time without washing their hands. This is unhygienic. The utensils used by some of them in most cases are never washed and if they are, they are not very clean because they do not have enough water,” he said.