The Ministry of Health has instructed a confectioner to pull down an advertisement for biscuits following an uproar on social media.
The Department of Public Health ordered Nuvita Biscuits to take down the advert, which an expert has said contained misleading nutritional claims.
Nuvita’s claim has been the source of online debate since the billboard was erected a week ago.
The billboard has a picture of cookies wrapped in a ribbon with the message “A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand”.
However, social media users felt that the statement was misleading since cookies alone cannot constitute a balanced diet.
“You cannot put balanced diet and cookies in the same sentence … Bring down this billboard,” wrote one Facebook user.
Nutritionists emphasised that the information was incorrect.
“Even if the cookies have all the nutrients, it still does not qualify to be a balanced diet because balanced diet is about choosing food from different food groups, combining them and eating them thrice a day to get all the necessary nutritional values,” said Ms Gladys Mugambi, who heads the Kenya Nutrition and Dietetics Unit.
Director of Public Health Kepha Ombacho on Wednesday instructed county public health officers to have the billboard removed as it was against the Food, Drugs and Chemical Substance Act.
“This claim has not been cleared for advertisement and, therefore, such advert must be brought down immediately and legal action taken against the owners,” noted Dr Ombacho’s circular to senior health officers.
Dr Ombacho also warned of unscrupulous methods being used to hasten the ripening of fruits such as bananas and mangoes.
He said some farmers illegally used calcium carbide, exposing consumers to toxicity.
Combined with water, the white crystalline chemical produces acetylene gas, which is used in welding and cutting torches.
The gas acts like ethylene, an important natural plant hormone used in agriculture to hasten the ripening of fruits.
However, it is inadvisable to use calcium carbide to ripen fruits because it has carcinogenic (cancer-causing) properties.