Sharon Naluwende a nutritionist from Mulago hospital notices that it is an unhealthy practice for farmers to dry their foodstuffs on bare ground.
According to Naluwende, drying food on bare ground exposes it to developing moulds or fungi.
She explains that the moulds produce toxic chemicals known as mycotoxins or aflatoxins.
These are highly toxic compounds, which can cause both acute and chronic toxicity in humans and animals, leading to illness or even death.
Haspha Nassolo, a senior nursing officer at Joint Clinic Research Centre says foods usually affected by the moulds include cereals, legumes like groundnuts, maize, wheat, cassava, sorghum, millet, coffee and sweet potatoes. This is because they usually have high moisture content.
The food is also exposed to physical, biological or chemical contaminants, which can harm the consumer.
Nassolo explains that physical contaminants may include soil, stones, pieces of wood, glass, metal, animal droppings and bones, and animal hair or feathers.
She adds that chemical contaminants are agricultural chemicals that are sprayed in the gardens. When it rains, they are washed away and may find their way into foods dried on the ground.
Naluwende notes that biological contaminants are what most people call germs.
She says they are the most common food contaminants and they come from human and animal waste.
Nassolo says the use of raised drying yards or racks is the best way to dry foodstuffs.
She also says foodstuffs could be safely dried on canvas sheets, papyrus mats, polythene sheets or tarpaulin.
She discourages the drying of food on rooftops, saying rooftops usually have moisture, which could support the growth of moulds.
Nassolo advises that food should be stored in a cool and dry place.
She urges people to ensure that their stores do not leak.
Nassolo also advises that the stores should not be infested with insects and pests, for instance, rats, which can be netted using traps.
She also warns against keeping animals, such as cats, in the store where food is kept. Nassolo explains that it is meant to prevent contaminants of food with animal droppings and hair.
“The stores should also be inspected regularly to ensure proper hygiene. In addition, space should be left between the wall and food”, advises Nassolo.