Kenya: MPs Take Kebs to Task Over Release of Harmful Oil


The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) is on the spot over the release of 48 containers of edible oil from Mombasa port just three months after tests confirmed that the products were unfit for human consumption.

The Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Committee of the National Assembly on Monday queried why the agency reneged on its tests.

Kebs Managing Director Bernard Njiraini was at pains to explain to the Kanini Kega-led committee how the products changed from “bad” to “good” and their release to the market.

Detectives impounded the consignment that was imported last year after Kebs said the oil was not fortified with Vitamin A and would be harmful to consumers.

Mr Njiraini was asked if the agency was acting at the behest of someone and whether its independence was being compromised.

SKETCHY RESULTS

At the centre of the tussle are 48 containers of the oil manufactured by Palmtop Vegeoils Products Limited based in Malaysia.

The standards body re-tested the products after the importer appealed its initial results.

“If you tested the same oils in June and found that they had no vitamin, you want to tell us that after three months you were able to find Vitamin A in the same oil. Where did these vitamins come from if they were not there three months earlier?” posed Mr Kega.

He added: “What you are telling us is that either your officers or your machines did not do their work properly during the first test.”

Aldai MP Cornelly Serem claimed that Kebs was under pressure from “somebody” to release the oil despite a letter from the Ministry of Health warning against such a decision.

VITAL ASSET

Mr Njiraini failed to confirm to the MPs whether he had received the letter from the Health Cabinet Secretary and disregarded its content.

He said that a board meeting concluded that Vitamin A does not naturally occur in edible oil and therefore its absence did not render the oil unsafe.

“As an artificially added ingredient, the standard provides for lower and upper limits. When applied in inadequate quantities, it denies the consumer the intended benefits envisaged by the regulations; when applied in excess it may lead to toxicity,” Mr Njiraini said.

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Publish date : 2019-10-02 08:31:41

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