Millers fault Kebs over ban on 27 flour brands
Cereal millers have faulted the manner in which Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned the sale of 27 maize flour brands, saying it has resulted in reputational damage and loss of business for the affected millers.
Cereal Millers Association (CMA) said Kebs should have reached out to the affected millers first as this would have enabled them withdraw only the affected batches as opposed to entire brands.
According to the grain milling industry lobby, some of the affected millers are yet to be informed why they were non-compliant.
“The CMA notes that Kebs should have followed due process, by first reaching out to the affected millers to verify, validate results for each specific batch and resolve matters expeditiously prior to going public,” it said in a statement.
This, the statement reads in part, would have been the most effective way of dealing with the matter, ensuring that it doesn’t happen again.
“It could also make sure proper recall procedures for specific batches rather than in its entirety were followed to get the products off the shelf as effectively as possible,” CMA added.
The association said that the lack of due procedure by Kebs has resulted in loss of business to millers, lower consumer confidence and reputational damage to both millers and their brands.
On Saturday, Kebs listed 12 maize meals and 15 composite flour brands that should not be sold to the public, saying they were unfit for human consumption as they contained high levels of aflatoxin.
Recall their products
It directed the manufacturers of the affected brands to recall their products from shelves.
The bureau identified non-compliant maize meal brands as Budget, Equatorial Ugali Afya, Fahali, Family, Pembe, Ziwa, Ugali Bora, Tupike Riri, Sima Tamu, Unga Sawa, Uwezo and Ziwa manufactured by Eldoret Grain Millers.
According to Kebs, the products had more than the stipulated level of aflatoxin of 10 parts per billion.
“The producers are expected to re-look at their processing systems and find out the gaps that could have led to presence of aflatoxin in the final products under the products certification scheme,” said Kebs director in charge of market surveillance, Peter Kaigwara.
Fears abound that maize flour could become scarce following the withdrawal of the 27 brands resulting in a price hike.
In recent times, Kenya has put up a spirited fight against sub-standard maize and maize products.
In March, the government announced a ban on all maize imports from Tanzania and Uganda, saying tests had established that it contained high levels of mycotoxins, beyond safety limits.
The ban was later lifted but under tough new conditions for importers.
Kenya consumes an average of three million 90kg bags of maize per month, some of which must be imported due to differences in harvesting periods in the various counties.
Kebs regularly bans flour brands found unfit for human consumption with 17 brands banned in January 2020 and five brands in November 2019.
Early last year, it banned 17 maize flour brands, saying their aflatoxin levels were higher than the maximum limit, going by Kenya’s standards.
The bureau it had seized some of the banned products and instructed supermarkets countrywide to get rid of them.
Kebs said the ban followed market surveillance and multiple reports from the public.