KENYA – The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) on Wednesday, January 29 ordered the withdrawal of 17 brands of maize flour from the shelves after tests confirmed the brands as unfit for human consumption, with some having high aflatoxin levels.

In a statement by the authority, retailers were ordered to immediately withdraw the listed brands from retail outlets, warning that failure to comply could lead to legal action.

“Kindly communicate through email giving the quantities and the brand names being held. We will make arrangements to collect them,” the statement read in part.

In the list of brands deemed to be unfit for consumption include Tetema and Dola manufactured by Eldoret Grains Limited which are now being banned for the second time after an earlier prohibition by KEBS in November 2019.

Others in the list include African King by African King Maize Millers, Unique by Ndosha Limited, Mlo by Bidii Limited, City Corn Maize Meal by Central Afya Bora Maize Millers and Sarafina Maize Meal by Century Millers.

The withdrawal also included Tosha Maize Meal by Godmesa Foods and Allied limited, Ahiba Maize Meal, Hakika Best, Budget Maize Meal, Wema Maize Meal, Jomba by Machakos Millers, Adardere Mupa by Mbaitu Maize Milling and Afya Maize Meal, Uzima Maize Meal and Sungura Maize Meal by Sungura Unga Millers.

In the statement signed by the KEBS Director of Surveillance Peter Kaigwara, the decision was reached after thorough monitoring of different brands.

“While conducting its mandate of market surveillance, KEBS has tested maize meal brands and has found some of them to contain levels of aflatoxins higher than the requirement of the relevant Kenya Standard, making them unsafe for human consumption,” read part of the statement.

On Twitter, the Retail Traders Association of Kenya (Retrak) confirmed receiving the orders from the standards body.

“This is an authentic letter from KEBS. We have been served with a copy of the same,” wrote Retrak.

In other related news, Kenya Revenue Authority plans to crackdown on packers and dealers in bottled water, juices, energy drinks, soda and other non-alcoholic drinks to enforce tax compliance.

The three-month window given to manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers and general public to comply with the new Excisable Goods Management System (EGMS) regulations ends on Friday, January 31,2020.

Starting February 1,2020, all products imported into Kenya or manufactured from November 13, 2019 must be affixed with an excise duty stamp.

“Any persons found in the possession (of the products) manufactured or imported into Kenya on or after November 13, 2019 not bearing an excise stamp will lead to seizure of all listed products in their possession,” commissioner for domestic taxes Elizabeth Meyo said in a notice.

KRA is implementing the second phase of EGMS after a successful roll-out on alcoholic drinks and cigarettes in 2013, which helped increase excise tax from Sh700 million to the current Sh5.6 billion.

In addition to that EGMS has also contributed immensely in the fight against illicit trade and levelled the playing ground for traders as well as protect consumers from substandard products.

The taxman is targeting an additional Sh4billion in the second phase.