KENYA – Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) has launched a food laboratory worth about US$3.98 million, to be used as a centre for monitoring and analysing the nutritional significance of foods, Business Daily has reported.

This is part of the European Union funded food fortification programme in collaboration with the ministry of health (MoH) targeting the poor and the vulnerable groups in Kenya.

Over a period of six years, the drive ‘Strengthening the Kenya National Food Fortification Programme’ to improve the health and nutritional status of such groups while addressing gaps in food fortification in Kenya.

The facility called the Kenya National Food Fortification Reference Laboratory aims to enhance the country’s capacity to monitor and evaluate the level of compliance of different fortified food products to uphold national standards.

“The project aims to strengthen the capacity of cereal millers to deliver micronutrient rich staple foods to target populations, particularly women, girls and children who are most vulnerable to malnutrition,” said EU Delegation in Kenya, Head of Cooperation, Erik Habers during the launch of the programme last year.

Project coordinator Daniel Sila said the project will combine practices on food fortification with food safety aspects to consumers get recommended amounts of the micro-nutrients.

It covers tests for maize, wheat, salt and vegetable oil and fat in line with the national food fortification legislation.

“This laboratory will be a one stop center for food samples analysis from Kenya and Africa, and it will also offer training to fortification regulators, food science post-graduate students from JKUAT as well as millers,” said Prof Sila.

In addition to building capacities of regulatory authorities in East Africa including Kenya Bureau of Standards, the facility will also enhance research and innovation by training two doctorate and four master’s students on food fortification.

JKUAT said this increases the number of qualified personnel in the fortification sector, something vital in the implementation of the government’s food and nutrition security contained in the country’s Big Four Agenda.

“Research and innovation within the food fortification arena will be catalysed, creating a knowledge pool that will accelerate targeted interventions toward improved health to all Kenyans,” he added.