KENYA – Food fortification test has gone digital with industrialists switching to the use of iCheck test kit to measure micronutrients in food.
The device, which is a product of Germany analytics company BioAnalyt, gives rapid results than the reference method that requires complex logistics.
“This means you minimise on costs of setting up a massive testing plant to just a small device,” said Anna Zhenchuk, a technical manager at BioAnalyt.
The device can test for iron, Vitamin A, iodine, carotene and zinc in various foods, including flours, cooking oils, milk and salt. In November last year, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) partnered with BioAnalyt to become the primary distributor of the iCheck kit.
Together, the two organisations aim at improving the quality of fortified foods for more than 700 million individuals globally over a period of two years.
Last week, GAIN donated 20 iCheck devices worth Sh11.5 million to millers in the country, including Unga Limited, Eldoret Grains Limited, Kitui Flour Mills and Consumer Information Network.
The millers will be able to test the quality and quantity of the raw material (vitamin premix) as well as the final enriched product on site.
Companies can now use the kit to monitor the progress of food fortification.
The Ministry of Health identified food fortification as a feasible and affordable approach towards controlling micronutrient deficiency in Kenya. There is a law that requires millers and oil manufacturers to include essential micronutrients in their industrial processes.
The Food, Drugs and Chemical Substances Act of 2012, requires that all packaged wheat and maize flour be fortified and conform to specific food requirements.
However, only 30 per cent of maize millers in the country have complied with the law while 180 wheat flour brands have certification from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).
As a monitoring authority, Kebs will use the test kits for first line testing at ports and borders as well as routine food monitoring in areas where lab facilities are lacking.
“We want to boost fortification of wheat and maize flour since micronutrient deficiency is a serious problem in Kenya,” said GAIN country director Adan Kabelo.