FOOD SAFETY

Millers fault KEBS action on flour products

They say food safety is non-negotiable, KEBS should have followed due process based on international practices.

In Summary

• Millers say KEBS should have first reached out to the affected millers to verify and validate their results for each specific batch and resolve matters expeditiously prior to going public.

• Proper recall procedures would have then been initiated to get the products off the market as effectively as possible for specific batches rather than condemning wholesale the entire product. 

Packets of maize and wheat flour in a supermarket
Packets of maize and wheat flour in a supermarket
Image: FILE

Millers have accused the Kenya Bureau of Standards of not following due process in the withdrawal of 27 flour products from the market last week.

This was after the standards body said the products did not comply with the necessary safety requirement.

The Cereal Millers Association said food safety is non-negotiable and that millers must ensure they deliver safe, nutritious and affordable flour products to consumers.

However it said there was no prior communication from KEBS, contrary to laid down international best practices. They accused the body of rushing to the press with the names.

“KEBS should have first reached out to the affected millers to verify and validate their results for each specific batch and resolve matters expeditiously prior to going public," said the association.

This, it said, would have helped millers understand the nature of the problem and deal with it through proper recall procedures of the specific affected batches instead of wholesale condemnation of the entire products.

“It is unfortunate that some of our millers listed in the press release were informed about why their products were non-compliant on Monday the 23rd of August 2021," said the millers.

The United Millers Association which brings together small scale millers said safety is key and millers must guard against aflatoxin. 

“However, KEBS should take less time in getting their results back so that they can only condemn what is non-compliance instead of condemning the whole product,” said chairman Ken Nyaga.

KEBS issued a public notice on August 19 on maize meal and composite flour brands that have not complied with the requirements and should not be sold until further notice.

“It is also our responsibility to keep the public informed of the compliance status of products, including maize meal and composite flour, to enable consumers make informed choices"said KEBS.

It added that given the significance of maize and its derived products in Kenya, it has put maize meal and composite flour in the categories of products desirous of constant surveillance and monitoring.

The bureau said manufacturers should cease forthwith manufacturing or offering for sale the affected maize meal and composite flour brands and instructed them millers to recall whatever was already in the market.

The millers were also instructed to institute effective corrective actions whose effectiveness shall be confirmed by KEBS before resumption of production and placement of the brands in the market.

“Upon satisfactory resolution and conclusion of the issues, KEBS shall then inform the public once the products have met the requirements of the Kenya Standards," it said.

KEBS said it shall continue to undertake market surveillance and factory inspections to ensure consumer safety and a level trade playing field waring that substandard products will be seized and destroyed destruction at the expense of the owner.

This in addition to any other legal action as provided under the law.