KENYA – The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has placed a ban on ground display of fruits and vegetables by highway and roadside sellers as part of its efforts to heighten food safety of fresh produce.

Agriculture CS Peter Munya had earlier pointed out on the increased food hazards awareness and demand for safe food among consumers, which has resulted in setting up measures to safeguard food and feed imports by national and regional agencies.

Kello Harsama, the AFA director general, informed that produce clumping done on the ground along roadsides, such as the Nairobi-Nakuru highway around Soko Mjinga shall not be permitted.

Speaking during a media briefing on the status of the horticulture industry, Harsama said traders should ensure they display or place their produce on a raised platform to avoid any contamination.

“We are not going to allow people selling vegetables such as kale, spinach and cabbages placed on the ground. The same should apply to transporting vegetables and fruits,

“Fresh produce shall not be stored or transported together with other material that may lead to contamination or adversely affect quality,” the director general said.

In addition, he urged traders to clean products using clean water and called on all Kenyans to demand safe and quality produce to safeguard health and the environment.

Daniel Maingi from Kenya Food Right Alliance (KeFRA), a movement that champions the right of all to access safe food, said consumers need to take accountability to practice standard and enhanced food hygiene that includes washing followed by a thorough rinse.

According to The Star, he said the government should also ensure traceability.

“The safety of vegetables is a complex issue and traceability must be matched with contamination responsibility by the farmer and consumer,” Maingi said.

He spoke on the use of pesticides at farm level which unfortunately do not wash off completely at the kitchen table leading to pesticide chronic exposure, causing neurotic behavior and other problems.

Maingi added that consumers are also responsible for contaminating their vegetables by improperly handling their produce at cooking and serving stage.

The Ministry of Agriculture through (AFA) recently launched the quality mark for the horticulture standard, which is referenced in the Horticulture Regulations of 2020.

The mark certifies products as having been produced and handled according to standard that protect consumers’ health, and will be a symbol of safety to consumers.

Among the requirements is the transportation of horticultural produce particularly fruits and vegetables in a covered and well-ventilated vehicle to prevent damage, contamination and spoilage of produce.

Harsama has requested horticulture producers, transporters, retail outlets, importers exporters and packing facilities to familiarize themselves with the standard and to comply with the requirement.