Heavy metal contamination of cooked foods hawked at Chuka town in Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya


  • Cornellius M. Muendo Department of Nursing, Chuka University, Chuka, Kenya
  • Gideon Kikuvi Department of Environmental Health and Disease Control, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Susan Mambo Department of Environmental Health and Disease Control, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya




Cadmium, Cooked foods, Copper, Food contamination, Hawked foods, Heavy metals, Lead, Street foods, Street-vended foods


Background: Contamination of cooked foods with heavy metals is an emerging global concern, particularly due to the associated health outcomes and economic considerations. These chemicals are introduced into cooked foods mainly through poor food handling practices and sometimes from their natural milieu such as soil, water, or air.

Methods: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study. The study analysed 151 food samples collected from 151 hawkers of cooked foods in Chuka town. The samples were analysed for lead, cadmium, and copper using an atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS) assisted by closed microwave digestion.

Results: The concentration of lead in the food samples ranged from ˂0.001 to 0.7 mg/kg with a mean of 0.207±0.16, cadmium ranged from ˂0.001 to 0.933 with a mean of 0.105±0.195, while copper ranged from ˂0.001 to 2 mg/kg with a mean of 0.461±0.456. The recorded levels of copper were below the maximum allowable limits in all the food samples. However, 57 (37.7%) and 44 (29.1%) food samples were contaminated with lead and cadmium, respectively. Overall, more than half 86 (57%) of the hawked-cooked foods were contaminated with either lead, cadmium, or both lead and cadmium.

Conclusions: Cooked foods hawked at Chuka town are contaminated with either lead, cadmium, or both lead and cadmium. The County government of Tharaka Nithi to champion interventions on preventing the sale of contaminated cooked foods.


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How to Cite

Muendo, C. M., Kikuvi, G., & Mambo, S. (2024). Heavy metal contamination of cooked foods hawked at Chuka town in Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya. International Journal Of Community Medicine And Public Health, 11(7), 2571–2576. https://doi.org/10.18203/2394-6040.ijcmph20241808



Original Research Articles