Kenyan food is set to be safer than ever after the European Union made available state-of-the art equipment that will enable national food control authorities to test the quality and safety of a wide range of food products.
The food testing laboratory equipment was launched by The Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade and Co-operatives, Adan Mohamed and the EU Ambassador, Stefano Dejak at the Kenya Bureau of Standards headquarters.
CS Mohamed said the equipment now available in laboratories at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS),gives the institutions the necessary tools to enforce and certify compliance with consumer food safety requirements.
“The equipment will be used for testing ofresidues and harmful organisms such as pesticide and veterinary drug residues in foods, toxic elements like lead, arsenic and mercury, disease causing micro-organisms, harmful food additives and mycotoxins (such as aflatoxin). This can happen much faster and at previously undetectable levels.”
The equipment was made possible through the Standards and Market Access Programme (SMAP)launched in 2014 through a 12.1 million Euro grant from the EU (Sh 1.4 billion), of which 5,860,885 Euro(Sh 679 million) went into the purchase of the equipment.
The CS stressed that the government will ensure the equipment is effectively used to guarantee the continued supply of safe foods not only for the export market but also for domestic consumers.
The EU Ambassador Stefano Dejaksaid the EU supported SMAPto address concernsraised by the national food control institutions regarding the need for a system to minimise the risks and hazards related to agricultural produce from the farm to fork.
“The equipment will contribute to increased production and consumption of safer and quality foods which will lead to increased competitiveness of Kenyan products,gain a better position on existing markets such as the 500 million strong EU marketandalso contribute to opening of new markets regionally and internationally.”
Ambassador Dejak emphasised that “SMAP is not only improving the value and safety of products across the value chain, but it is also improving livelihoods directly and indirectly for millions of people who depend on agriculture, by helping farmers to meet international food safety standards and be more competitive in the local and global market.”
CS Mohamed said the SMAP project contributed to removal of the 10 percent increased physical checks on Kenya’s French beans at designated ports of entry in the EU. The French Beans are now getting access to the EU market as a result of the efforts between the Kenya Horticultural Council, KEPHIS and the EU institutions.
KEBS Managing Director, Charles Ongwae said that the business sector is expected to greatly benefit from improved services rendered by inspection and conformity assessment bodies, leading to better product quality and increased access to regional and international markets.
He also noted that, through SMAP, Kenya developed and launched standards to boost the safety and quality around food and horticulture products.
“With support from the EU, we have developed 77 standards which cover tea, coffee, horticulture fresh produce, cereals and pulses, milk and milk products, processed fruits and vegetables. Meat and meat products, fish and fishery products, tea, coffee and honey products are also included,” said Ongwae.
Ongwae added that the standards will guarantee that goods and services locally produced or traded with any country are safe, and fit for consumption whether locally or for export. Safety and compliance will also be enhanced for goods coming into the country.