Kenyan standard body sets new rules for fresh produce test by retailers

KENYA – Retailers in Kenya will be required to comply with new regulations of ensuring that fresh produces are tested for higher pesticide residues and other contaminants as of May 1 in a bid to safeguard the welfare of consumers.

This follows the establishment of Kenya Standards 1758 developed by stakeholders in horticulture with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) secretariat, requiring all vegetables, fruits and beans to be subjected to the same quality standards as the ones for export.

Under these new standards, the produce will be tested twice for quality at the source and at the supermarket before they are offered to customers.

Fresh Producers Consortium of Kenya (FPC) with other government institutions, including the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) will follow up on the compliance.

“We now have standards to enforce mandatory quality checks to ensure all fresh produce comply with the minimum required pesticide residues,” said Ojepati Okesegere, chief executive officer of FPC.

The move implies that all retailers will now have to obtain fresh produce permits from the Directorate of Horticulture if they are to deal with this produce.

Failure to comply with the requirement on quality will see the licenses of culprits revoked and would have to undergo the process of compliance in order to get their permits back.

Kephis managing director Esther Kimani said they will ensure safety of the consumers by making sure that the fresh produce that is sold in supermarkets complies with the required standards.

She said at the moment they are in touch with their counterparts in other regional countries on traceability of the produce that is exported to Kenya.

For a very long time, the produce that ends up at the local market has not been subjected to quality checks, raising concerns over the safety of these food products that are sold in supermarkets or groceries, which have at times been found to be laden with heavy metals.

This comes at a time when Kenya has announced plans to establish a specialised agency to ensure safety of farm produce on sale in local markets amid rising cases of food contamination.

The agency will particularly be tasked with checking the quality of farm produce and levels of harmful chemical residues in goods offered for sale by mama mbogas (vegetable vendors) and other outlets.

Two supermarkets- Naivas and Carrefour, according to FPC have already agreed to be used in the pilot phase before the law takes effect in May.

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