KENYA – The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), the country’s premier government agency for provision of standards and conformity assessment services, has in a crackdown seized products from two manufacturing companies over expired permits; County bakers and pilot sifted maize meal.

The agency seized cakes from County Bakers, a company located in Kiboswa of Kisumu County, over operating with an expired permit SM, #29362 and Pilot sifted Maize meal at Majengo.

The Standardization Mark (SM) permit, which is a mandatory requirement provided for under section 10 of the Standards Act Cap 496, Laws of Kenya, for the placement of goods in the Kenyan market, is issued to manufacturers for products whose compliance with established standards has been ascertained.

KEBS said there is a clearly outlined procedure on dealing with such products, that will be applied and noted that the manufacturers have committed to the scheme of service hence familiar with repercussions of non-compliance.

“Let’s all be accountable for our actions; this will give us opportunity to have products that have met requirements in the standard. There will be no need for surveillance,” KEBS commented.

Commenting on the issue, a stakeholder, Duncan Kipkorir, advised that KEBS should change their attitude and approach by simplifying their operations and if possible, have their offices and labs in every county.

“I’m not in any way discrediting what Kebs is doing all am saying is that you need to embrace a proactive approach going forward, have constructive and structured engagements with the stakeholders. I’m also cognizant of the internal challenges in your esteemed organization, nonetheless quality ought to be upheld without compromise,” he reiterated.

In his opinion, Jazman Beyourname, a concerned citizen, said the regulatory body should have facilitated renewal of the permits instead of disrupting the businesses.Another native, James Ndung’u noted with concern that once manufacturers obtain permits, they shift to production of substandard goods. He urged the bureau to focus on standards implementation rather than permit acquisition.

In their defense, KEBS enlightened that a permit is an indicator of quality, hence they cannot assume there is quality without a permit.It also informed that defective products are usually withdrawn from the market and the manufacturer is allowed to conduct corrective action and consequently permitted to continue with business if they meet the stipulated standards.

In the previous year, June, KEBS revised the Standardization Mark in a scheme that sought to boost efficiency and enhance the ease of doing business in Kenya. Under the revised SM scheme, manufacturers are issued with a permit that is valid for two years instead of one year as has been the case. Manufacturers can also apply, make payment for the SM Permit online and have it electronically delivered consequently saving on time and costs.

Earlier in February, it seized and banned Riri maize flour in Makuyu, Gatundu, owing to a lack of certification. In 2020, it sought out Budget Sifted maize meal from K Matt Supermarket in Nyeri County for supposedly manufacturing and commercializing the product without a valid permit.Several manufacturers of products like sugar, especially supermarkets, have in the past been spotlighted on the same.

The government agency has been on the lookout for manufacturers who continue to produce and sell products that have not been certified.

To check on permit validity, business operators should download KEBSAPP on their android phones and type the permit number underneath the standardization mark or send the sm#permit no. to SMS number 20023.