Ministry suspends Nacada-approved alcohol products

KENYA – The Health ministry has directed its officials at the counties to suspend nearly all the alcoholic drinks cleared by the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) two months ago.

The directive contradicts Nacada, which updated a list of manufacturers and importers through a public notice published in May.

Health officials are locked in a dispute with the anti-drug agency over the list of alcoholic drinks cleared for consumption.

In communication issued on July 14 and seen by the Business Daily, the Health ministry has directed its officials at the counties to suspend nearly all the alcoholic drinks cleared by the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) two months ago.

The directive affects about 76 small-scale manufacturers and distributors of spirits and wines located in Nairobi, Thika, Ruiru, Kisumu, Tala, Kitengela, Machakos, Kiambu and Gatundu. Others are based in Kikuyu, Ongata Rongai, and Juja.

“The factories are on notice to suspend the production of alcoholic drinks (on the attached list) as their quality licenses have been withdrawn by the Kenya Bureau of Standards,” reads the letter signed by director of public health Kepha Ombacho. 

The letter adds: “You are expected to bring this to the attention of all staff working under you to continue carrying out surveillance and those necessary actions including recall, seizure, closure and prosecution to be taken against proprietors.”

The directive contradicts Nacada, which updated a list of manufacturers and importers through a public notice published in May.

Last week, Nacada chairman John Mututho accused the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) of withdrawing the certificates that it had issued to allow the said manufacturers to trade in alcohol.

“It is a pity that Kebs would issue the certificates, of which we have the copies, then later on withdraw them as an afterthought,” said Mr Mututho.

He also took issue with the inconsistency in results of alcohol samples by the Government Chemist and Kebs.

“When a number of Kenyans died recently after consuming harmful liquor, the result that we got from the Government Chemist indicated that only three brands tested positive for methanol while Kebs findings reported 68 drinks contained methanol,” he said.

The Business Daily was unable to get a comment from Kebs as the quality assurance officer could not be reached.

As a result, Mr Mututho pointed out that Nacada had sought the services of an independent international company to test all alcoholic beverages, again.

“It is because of the different findings between the two bodies that we have been forced to hire the services of the international testing firms to come up with credible information,” he noted.

Mr Mututho said the process of conducting fresh tests in all the 700 factories that manufacture alcohol in the country would have been completed by now but had been delayed by the procuring process.

He noted that the contracted firm would test 343 parameters in all the 3,300 brands of alcohol. Some of the elements to be tested include the presence of mercury, lead and methanol, among others.

August 4, 2014; http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Ministry-suspends-Nacada-approved-alcohol-products/-/539546/2407222/-/2pekoz/-/index.html

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