The past few months have seen increased cases of sub-standard food imports into Kenya. From sugar that contains mercury to expired rice, to oil that does not meet the required standards.
And worse still, experts are now raising alarm over a lot of milk products and chicken on sale in the country could be highly contaminated with disease-causing germs.
In a statement, Green Peace Africa has urged the state to priorities food safety even as it moves to realise the ‘big four agenda’-the president’s economic agenda.
Claire Nasike, Greenpeace Africa’s food for life campaigner noted that Kenya’s food system had become vulnerable to unscrupulous businessmen seeking to profit at the expense of consumers’ health.
The situation, Nasike explains, has exposed millions of consumers to food contamination.
“It is shocking that even before the storm surrounding contaminated sugar has settled, Kenyans have to deal with news of food unfit for human consumption that has been allowed into the country,” said Nasike
She further urged the state to urgently put in place stringent measures to tackle food safety noting that it is enshrined in the constitution which Kenyans voted for overwhelmingly.
“Every Kenyan has a right to safe and healthy food of acceptable quality as stipulated by article 43 of Kenya’s constitution. There is an urgent need for the president to take a step further from food security and include food safety in his big four agenda given the ongoing crisis,” noted Nasike.
The food campaigner faulted the two regulatory bodies that impose new rules on imports for laxity in dealing with rogue port officials working with cartels to clear substandard goods or fail to inspect containers bringing in food products.
“The Kenya Bureau of standards and Kenya Revenue authority have imposed new rules requiring goods headed to Kenya to be verified at the source – but the two bodies need to do more in terms of dealing with rogue port officials who work with cartels to clear substandard goods or fail to inspect containers bringing in food products,” she added.
According to Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO), the agriculture sector provides livelihoods to more than 80 percent of the Kenya’s population and contributes to improving nutrition through production of safe, diverse and nutritious foods.
The environmental watchdog urged the government to put in place robust policies and regulatory provisions and a clear standardisation system that traces the food supplies through the value chain.
These, it added, will help in ensuring that standards are adhered to and food safety guaranteed.
“Unregulated imports are slowly killing farmers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods,” Nasike noted.
The government needs to support sustainable and safe food production methods such as ecological farming especially among smallholder farmers through increased resource allocation.
“Ecological farming does not contaminate the food or the environment with chemical inputs thus ensuring local stable supply of safe and healthy food,” Nasike noted.