Fish imported from China is the most common and cheapest in the country, with a kilogramme going for a wholesale price of Ksh230 as compared with those fished locally that are old at Ksh500 per kilogramme.
However, according to investigations by Nation, the delicacy could be the most toxic and endangering Kenyan lives.
The fish, which were once banned in the country, contain 427 times (42.7 ppm) the recommended amount of lead, which is way too much toxic for human health.
Lead is known for causing decreased mental ability, damaging the nervous system and impeding physical development in children while in adults it causes high blood pressure, kidney damage and reduced fertility.
It can also damage almost every body organ from the heart, bones, kidneys, teeth, intestines and the nervous system when ingested in excess.
The research which was carried out in collaboration with the University of Nairobi showed that the fish could be one of the leading causes of cancer in urban areas, where they are consumed in plenty.
Seven dangerous pesticides tested positive in the fish samples obtained by the media house, among them phosalone, which was detected at 0.07 parts per million (ppm). This is seven times more than the maximum allowable limit (MAL) of 0.01 ppm.
Other pesticides detected in the fish from China include tolyfluanid (0.022 ppm), flutonail (0.022ppm), deltamethrin (0.026ppm), acrinathrin (0.005ppm), pretilachlor (0.005) and tebufenpyrad at 0.001ppm.
“These classes of pesticides can cause cancer, mouth ulceration, dysphagia and abdominal pain, among other diseases, if ingested,” reports Nation.
This makes the fish not fit for human consumption according to Prof James Mbaria, the lead researcher in the project.
Despite the alarming revelations, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) seems to be unaware, or if it is aware closing the eye for traders from China.
“All imports to Kenya are required to be tested in the country of origin and if they meet the specifications in the standards, they are issued with a certificate of conformity. Upon arrival in Kenya, the imports are subjected to destination inspection,” Kebs said last year
Fish imports from China to Kenya crossed the Ksh2 billion mark in 2017, and this figure has been doubling every year.
Currently, Kenya produces 180,000 tonnes of fish a year against a demand of about 500,000 tonnes, explaining the growing demand for ‘Chinese’ fish.
Last year in January, the government lifted a ban on fish from China barely three months after the restrictions took effect in November 2018.
Kenya imports approximately 1.8 million kilogrammes of fish every month.