KENYA – The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has approved 28 new standards for agro-processing and agriculture products, encompassing adoption of Codex standards primed to manage food allergens, corrigenda on dried peaches as well as grading of meat and poultry products.

The standard, KS EAS 38:2014, requires the declaration of allergen status on products that commonly cause allergic reactions. Food allergen has over the years emerged as a critical safety issue of concern with the population increasingly developing different allergies to food products.

“By unveiling the precautionary allergen labeling on packaging, KEBS aims to effectively regulate the forms used by various food industries which often has been inconsistent and may over time diminish the value of such advisory to consumers,” said  Bernard Njiraini, Managing Director, Kenya Bureau of Standards.

The newly approved standards aim to familiarize consumers with food allergens as they diet and address many questions regarding their preferred food products hitching with medical and safety considerations.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled us into an era where medicine is increasingly practiced via online platforms, highlighting the need for standardized food allergen ladder approaches for successful and safe introduction of food allergens,” added Njiraini

He noted that the approved standards will help to improve governance and fix inconsistent usage of precautionary allergen labelling. This will in turn aid in communicating risks to consumers to make informed choices when purchasing food products.

The regulator has also reduced the residue values for sulphur dioxide and fermentation based on recent evidence that showed the previous levels were high hence potentially affecting the quality and safety of the product.

For several consumers, dried peaches have over the years been part of their diets. In recent years the health benefits and the importance of adding them into daily lives is getting more widely known and appreciated, hence the recent review and approval of the new standards.

Poultry standards to uphold animal welfare

Further, KEBS, in a quest to standardize and uphold better animal welfare standards in poultry industrial systems, which has increasingly become a matter of global interest, has unveiled standards of handling poultry responsibly right from production, transportation and during slaughter.

According to Njiraini, the country’s poultry sector is growing thus the welfare of chicken needs to be protected. The new code of practice for chicken welfare, KS 2945:2021, will ensure that this is observed.

The Technical Committee also developed new sets of standards for grading of live chicken for both indigenous (Kienyeji) and improved indigenous chicken (KS 2774-5:2021 and KS 2774-6:2021) so as to ensure value addition and enhance trade in poultry.

Esther Ngari, the KEBS Director for Standards Development and Trade, highlighted that the bureau is prevailing upon the populace to end the shocking inhumane chicken farming within the chicken production systems.

“These range from overfeeding, cramped living spaces to lack of exposure to natural lighting, crude transportation as means to meet the fast-growing demand for chicken meat. Unfortunately, this leads to painful lameness, overworked hearts and lungs and wounds including skin sores and poor-quality poultry meat,” she said.

Accentuating the need for understanding and implementing positive poultry welfare practices during handling and transportation, Ngari stressed that poultry supply stakeholders should commit and accept the responsibility of humane poultry handling and minimizing stress to the birds while catching, loading, transporting, unloading and processing them.

The standards will ensure that the poultry supply chain improves the well-being of poultry by reducing handling and transport stress, addressing customer expectations and regulatory oversight and minimize mortalities.

Other standards approved include prerequisite programmes for transportation and storage of grains and determination of moisture content on whole grains and milled grains.

This is to promote practices that will enhance food security by enabling availability of safe food for human consumption in the country.

Contamination of food can occur during transportation and storage of the food commodity or the raw materials. This standard proposes the necessary programmes to put in place during transportation and storage of food commodities in order to ensure that food contamination does not occur.

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