KENYA – Following the suspension of several brands of edible oil in the Kenyan market, sector players are now calling for joint testing of the claimed non-compliant batches.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) last week suspended the sale of 10 brands after subjecting the oil and fats to tests at their laboratory against the requirements of the Standards Act, and the respective product standard KS EAS 769: KS 2019 fortified edible oils & fats – specification in iron levels.
“We hope they will allow us to do a joint testing. Even by a court of law, how do you prove yourself guilty or innocent unless both parties have gone through a process?
“The process is either you allow for independent testing — which we have done — and accept those results, or allow us to be present at your laboratories when you test,” a highly placed source privy to the matter told the Business Daily in confidence.
The standard sets out the requirement for iron as 2.5 mg/Kg at the maximum.
However, the findings of the KEBS test on the particular batches revealed that a particular batch of cooking oil and fats that the companies placed on the market ranged between 4.6mg/kg and 198.99mg/kg.
The revelation is coming at a time KEBS has threatened to sue the four major manufacturers Bidco Africa, Pwani Oil, Kapa Oil and Menengai, for selling sub-standard cooking oil and cooking fats brands into the market.
Bernard Njiraini, KEBS Managing Director said the manufacturers will be taken to court for selling cooking oil and fats that had a series of contaminated batches contrary to the law.
“We will take them to court once we establish that the specific batches of cooking oil and fats did not meet standards. It is the responsibility of the manufacturers to ensure the products meet standards,” he said.
The source however retorted, “We are disputing their results. We have given independent results from their accredited laboratories confirming that we have complied. We are not accepting that the iron content is higher than the standard.
Of the banned products, Bidco was ordered to recall Bahari Fry batch number 107921 and Olive Gold batch number 105948, with Pwani Oil removing its four oil brands –Fresh Fri batch number FF1L17487D, Fresh Fri with Garlic batch number FF500175260, fry mate batch number 8941D and Salit batch number SS1L17472D.
Menengai withdrew its Top Fri oil of batch number OL4A3 MF9.25.05.22, while Kapa Oil Refineries was told to recall Postman of batch number 0210322B, Rina oils of batch number 0340522B, and Tilly cooking fat of batch number 152222A.
Overconsumption of iron can result in side effects such as liver damage, vomiting and diarrhea as well as abdominal pain. The recommended daily amount of iron is 16 mg for males and 12 mg for women.
Additionally, a high iron content in edible oil affects the oil’s quality and rate of deterioration.
“The higher the level of contaminant iron, the higher the frequency of trips to the till to buy more edible oil which disenfranchises the consumer who has to spend more on cooking oil and even creates an uneven playing field giving undue advantage to the non-compliant brands,” said Mr. Njiraini.