Wetang’ula wants toxic maize flour millers charged

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019 07:30 |
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula. PD/FILE

 Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula wants criminal charges preferred against five maize millers for exposing Kenyans to harm by selling maize flour with high aflatoxin levels.

He also wants the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to take action on regulators “who have let millers flood the market with toxic maize.

Last week, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned maize flour from the five; Kitui Flour Mills, Alpha Grain Ltd, Pan African Grain Millers, Kenblest Limited and Kensalrise Limited.

Weteng’ula now wants Kebs, which is charged with providing facilities for examination and testing commodities manufactured in Kenya, indicted for failing to supervise the destruction of the contaminated maize as recommended by a Senate ad-hoc committee on maize crisis.

He also accuses some retailers and wholesalers of allegedly not removing from the shelves the banned maize brands but reduced their prices instead.

“The begging question remains: Will criminal charges be preferred against retailers who have not taken the banned brands off their shelves but have instead discounted the prices?”  the senator posed in a statement on the floor of the House, yesterday.

“What did the Ministry of Agriculture and National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) do with huge stocks of maize in their stores that KEBS found to be unfit for human consumption?” he posed.

In 2018, the Senate maize crisis select committee, in a report to the House,  condemned some of the maize stored in the NCPB silos and recommended that it be destroyed to save Kenyans from possible consumption of harmful cereal products.

“Were the stocks destroyed as is required by law, or the government simply maintained silence hoping the situation would remedy itself?” he posed.

Wetang’ula, who co-chaired the ad-hoc committee with his Uasin Gishu counterpart Margaret Kamar, said the same contaminated maize is on the shelves for Kenyans to buy.

On Saturday, Kebs warned the public against consuming five brands of maize flour and ordered them recalled from the market due to high levels of aflatoxin.

The brands, Kebs said, did not meet the standards during surveillance on various maize flour products in the market.  The exercise was done under routine checks and after multiple complaints by public.

As such, Kebs has subsequently suspended licenses’ of five major maize millers and banned the sale of Dola, Kifaru, Starehe, Jembe, and 210 maize flour brands as they “do not meet the requirements of Kenyan market standards”

“Following consistent market surveillance and testing, it has been established that the brands in the have failed because their levels of aflatoxin is higher than the maximum limit allowed by relevant Kenya Standards,” Kebs said in a statement.

Just Last week, the same  Kebs also suspended seven peanut butter brands and instructed the producers to discontinue production and recall stocks that had already been supplied for sale. 

The seven were True Nuts, Fressy, Supa Meal, Nuteez, Sue’s Naturals, Zesta, and Nutty by Nature.

Nevertheless, Wetangula has regretted that maize flour which a stable food for almost 90 percent of Kenyans is danger.

Aflatoxins are produced by fungi and grow on grains that are not dried or stored in proper conditions. They thrive in warm and moist conditions.

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