The government is currently implementing a bio-control technology Aflasafe in order to effectively reduce contamination of maize grains in the field. The activity is meant to sustain life and promote good health by ensuring access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food.
Speaking during a miller’s workshop in Nairobi, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Peter Munya has declared that the government will ensure safe food trade practices in a manner consistent with the World Trade Organization sanitary and phytosanitary measures, as well as other international requirements in an effort to safeguard consumers.
The CS, who was represented by the Chief Administrative Secretary, State department of livestock Lawrence Omuhaka, noted that food processing is a critical stage in the food system. He specified that processors must adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), just the same way farmers adhere to Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) during food production.
Munya indicated that the biggest threat to food grains and their products is contamination by aflatoxins, noting that this is a big concern not only at consumer level, but at all stages of the food system, right from production, transportation, processing, retailing and consumption.
The prevalence of aflatoxins in maize in various regions of the country, including low-risk areas, underscores the importance of raising awareness on the chances and consequences of chronic exposure to the toxin among producers, consumers, traders, and vendors.
“It is upon all stakeholders at various levels to adhere to the laid down rules and regulations that govern the food system in the country and be in constant contact with Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and the Ministry of Health” he said.
The meeting discussion on Food Safety, Food Fortification, Mycotoxins Management and Good Manufacturing Practices & Hygiene was also attended by the chairman of the United Grain Millers Association (UGMA), Kennedy Nyaga, who called upon government to regulate the milling industry in order to enhance food safety as well as ensure fair competition.
UGMA which is made up of small scale millers raised concern over the mushrooming of mills in the market that do not comply with the law. “Currently, there are 140 small-scale millers under the association and the recent rapid increase in upcoming milling companies has seen some of them not meeting the required standards including fortification” Nyaga said
He explained that in order to start milling flour, one needs approval and licensing from Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBs), which checks for fortification, standardization and aflatoxin. Additionally, a single permit license, three health licenses from the Public Health department (for employees, premises and food handling) and a license from the fire department of the County Government are also needed.
Peter Kahenya, a researcher from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) said that a survey carried out in October and November last year on flour fortification showed that only 68 percent of small-scale farmers in the country are fortifying their flour.
“This means that 32 percent are not fortifying their flour, a mandatory process for all flour millers, but even so out of the 68percent who are doing so, only 28 percent are doing it correctly,” he said
Food fortification or enrichment according to the Ministry of Agriculture is the process of adding essential trace elements and vitamins to food. This is the government’s effort to reduce the number of people with dietary deficiencies within the population. Some fortification elements include vitamin A, vitamin D, Iodine, Folic acid and Iron.