FOOD SAFETY

EU donates quality control testing kits to Kebs

To be used to test for minerals such as sodium, zinc, iron and heavy metals like mercury in food samples.

In Summary
  • The kits have been provided under the EU-funded UNIDO MARKUP programme
  • The project seeks to support initiatives that entrench the culture of quality and reliability testing services meant to facilitate trade and ensure consumer safety
Kebs managing director Bernard Njiraini
Kebs managing director Bernard Njiraini
Image: COURTESY

The European Union has donated quality control testing kits to the Kenya Bureau of Standards to ensure consumer health and safety.

The kits will be used to test minerals like sodium, zinc, iron and heavy metals like mercury in food samples taken to Kebs laboratories.

EU Ambassador to Kenya Henriette Geiger said improving quality and safety standards assures a continued access to the European markets as well as quality produce for local consumption.

“These CRMs are part of a long term support to Kebs. The European Union is the biggest market for Kenya’s horticultural produce. We look forward to a continuation of this partnership, which also strengthens Kenya’s capacity to participate in regional and international trade,” Geiger said.

EU Head of Agriculture and Resilience section Myra Bernadi said the kits known as Certified Reference Materials, are important for analytical chemistry and clinical analysis.

She spoke during the handing over of CRM at Kebs headquarters in Nairobi while marking the World Standards Day.

Bernadi noted that provision of the reference materials to laboratories in Kebs and in future those at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services, reconfirms standardisation measures for the analysis of heavy metal residues.

The quality control testing materials have been provided under the EU-funded Market Access Upgrade Programme Kenya which seeks to support initiatives that entrench the culture of quality and reliability testing services meant to facilitate trade and ensure consumer safety.

MARKUP Kenya is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation in partnership with the government and private sector.

“These activities with Kebs will without a doubt enhance their scope of accreditation and enable them to perform the requisite tests on products destined for export, in line with the market requirements,” Bernadi said.

According to Kebs managing director Bernard Njirani, the availability of the reference materials will go a long way in protecting consumer health and safety.

This is in addition to facilitating fair trade through provision of reliable measurements for purposes of product certification. 

He explained that the CRM will be used for quality control in analytical testing laboratories to demonstrate assurance on reliability and accuracy of test results released by the labs in the different samples tested.

“It is our hope that the EU- funded MARKUP programme will continue to support initiatives geared at taking testing services closer to the local agriculture fraternity and industry for the purposes of improving value addition, consumer protection and trade facilitation,” Njirani said.

Kebs Testing Services acting chief manager Tom Okumu said the availability of these reference materials has supported Kebs initiatives in development of reference materials and assignment of values to proficiency testing samples distributed locally and in the EAC.

“This has strengthened Kebs testing laboratories as the National Reference Laboratory for Conformity for locally imported and imported goods traded in Kenya and beyond,” Okumu said.

MARKUP Kenya national project coordinator Maina Karuiru emphasised on the need for production of quality food safe from contaminants such as chemicals, microbial and pesticides residues.

The programme, he added, is keen on training farmers on issues such as GAP and other standards and certifications as required so that Kenyan produce can get more markets locally, regionally and internationally with a bias to the EU.

“Among key interventions that MARKUP Kenya also hopes to create is awareness on aflatoxin contamination and prevention especially for macadamia, groundnuts and dried herbs and spices,” Karuiru said.