Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kenya govt orders lab tests on all sugar stocks on sale at traders' cost

A policeman guards as workers load 252 bags of

A policeman guards as workers load 252 bags of suspected contraband sugar onto a truck in Eldoret Town, June 18, 2018. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMD  

By JAMES KARIUKI

Nairobi. The government has directed wholesalers, supermarkets and retail shops to undertake laboratory analysis of all their sugar consignments.

The analysis, which the traders will have to undertake at their own costs, raises the possibility of an increase in the consumer prices of sugar.

The Director of Public Health Kepha Ombacho says the tests are aimed at ascertaining the "wholesomeness" of table sugar.

Dr Ombacho said businesspeople will then have to provide proof of sampling through sugar clearance certificates issued by the government laboratories.

The move arises from emerging evidence that unsafe sugar, containing insoluble metals such as copper and mercury, has been finding its way to home and eateries.

“We have noted with concern that unsafe sugar has been placed in the market for human consumption, which could be injurious to the health of consumers.

"As a supplier/stockist, you are advised to subject all sugar to sampling testing and analysis to ascertain its safety before selling the same to the public,” he said in an letter entitled: "Counterfeit Sugar in the market".

Conform to standards

Dr Ombacho said all sugar meant for human consumption must conform to sugar standards, defined under KS/EAS5,2009 for refined sugar and KS/EAS 749,2010 for brown sugar.

The sugar must as well as meet the set provisions of the Food, Drugs and Chemical Substances Act.

The Public Health director added that county and national public health officers will intensify surveillance, with impromptu samples being collected for testing to ensure proper standards are adhered to.

“Be notified that the active surveillance by national and county health ministries will sustain active surveillance of sugar to ascertain compliance and if [anyone is] found to have contravened the said laws and national standards, the product will be withdrawn from the market and legal action taken against the offending person (entity),” he said.

Impounded sugar

The past month has seen hundreds of bags of imported sugar seized in go-downs countrywide.

The seized sugar, mainly meant for industrial use, had been destined for sale in retail chains.

The crackdown spearheaded by a multi-agency task force on illicit goods has impounded sugar worth millions of shillings imported from non-Comesa countries, where duty was not paid.

The task force leader, Wanyama Musiambo, said allowing unscrupulous trader to import contraband goods did not only deny the taxman revenue but also exposed Kenyans to health risks.

The month-long raid has since impounded assorted goods worth Sh1.2 billion.

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