Japan intensifies inspections on Kenyan coffee amidst pesticide contamination concerns

KENYA – The government of Japan has raised the frequency of monitoring tests of Chlorpyrifos in Fresh Coffee Beans from Kenya to 30% levels of official controls due to detection of levels above the threshold.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that they detected Chlorpyrifos levels at 0.06 ppm which is above the maximum residue limits of 0.05 ppm required for imported coffee in Japan.

According to the Pesticide Action Network – International (pan), Chlorpyrifos is officially classified as a Highly Hazardous Pesticide and is banned in the European Union due to its neuro and developmental toxicity.

It also harms reproductive systems and studies have shown that pregnant women and children are at higher risk if they are exposed. This pesticide is also highly toxic to bees and fish, as reported by Route to Food.

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in Japan has also notified that all growers as well as exporters of fresh coffee beans must exercise voluntary tests at warehouses and at packaging of the product.

Kenyan coffee is one of the most sought-after coffees in the world due to its intense flavor, full body and a pleasant aroma.

In 2020, South Korea and Japan banned its importation for 3 years citing high levels of chemical contamination.

Nation Kenya reported that the chemical levels of Ochratoxin, a naturally occurring foodborne mycotoxin occurring in a wide variety of agricultural commodities, was found to have exceeded the allowable minimum.

At the time, Peter Gikonyo, Chairperson of the Kenya Coffee Producers Association’s, noted that the ban was as a result of gaps in certification procedures for coffee agrochemicals, inadequate capacity by farmers in post-harvest handling of the crop and gaps in coffee export regulations and enforcement.

In 2020, Kenya exported U.S$ 229M in Coffee, making it the 25th largest exporter of Coffee in the world, according to OEC data. At the same year, Coffee was the 5th most exported product in Kenya.

Chlorpyrifos ban in U.S

This year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of Chlorpyrifos on food crops, reversing one of the Trump administration’s most fraught public health decisions.

The EPA was prompted to act by a scathing federal court decision in April last year that blasted the Trump administration’s decision to keep the chemical on the market. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled the agency must ban the spraying of chlorpyrifos on food crops unless its staff could show it can be used safely.

Its decision marked the culmination of a decade-and-a-half fight, which began when environmental groups petitioned the agency in 2007 to revoke all uses of the pesticide on food.

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