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High Ethanol Contents of Spirit Drinks in Kibera Slums, Kenya: Implications for Public Health
- Okaru, Alex O., Abuga, Kennedy O., Kibwage, Isaac O., Lachenmeier, Dirk W.
- Foods 2017 v.6 no.10
- carbonyl compounds, esters, ethanol, flame ionization, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, methanol, pH, poisoning, public health, traditional technology, vodka, volatile compounds, Kenya
- Cheap licit and artisanal illicit spirit drinks have been associated with numerous outbreaks of alcohol poisoning especially with methanol. This study aimed to evaluate the quality of cheap spirit drinks in Kibera slums in Nairobi County, Kenya. The samples consisted of cheap licit spirits (n = 11) and the artisanal spirit drink, ‘chang’aa’, (n = 28). The parameters of alcoholic strength and volatile composition were used as indicators of quality and were determined using gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GC-FID) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) respectively. The ranges for alcoholic strength were 42.8–85.8% vol and 28.3–56.7% vol for chang’aa and licit spirit drinks respectively, while the pH ranges were 3.3–4.2 and 4.4–4.8 for chang’aa and licit spirit drinks respectively. The majority of volatiles were found in artisanal spirits and they included higher alcohols, ethyl esters and carbonyl compounds. The alcoholic strength of all the artisanal spirits (100%) and 91% of the licit spirits was above the 40% vol of standard spirits such as vodka. The high ethanol content of the alcohol products was the only element of public health significance in this study.