KENYA – The Kenyan Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, are calling upon food safety stakeholders to opine on the draft Food Safety Policy, 2021 and the draft Food and Feed Safety Coordination Bill, 2021, to aid them in making an informed final rule.

Food safety is central to public health, food security, and improved livelihoods through trade facilitation and sustainable development.

Access to safe food is a fundamental right as prescribed in the Constitution of Kenya. Food safety needs to be ensured by protecting the food supply from all types of hazards that may occur during all stages of food production, including primary production, harvesting, processing, transporting, retailing, distributing, preparing, storing and consumption.

In recognition of the constitutional right of its people to safe food by the Government of Kenya, a National Food Safety Policy was developed by the Ministry of Health and adopted in 2013.

The overall goal of the policy was to establish and maintain a rational, integrated farm-to-fork food safety system that harmonizes inter-agency efforts, minimizes inter-agency conflict and overlap, and ensures the protection of public safety and food trade consistent with World Trade Organization’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (WTO/SPS) and other international requirements.

However, the lack of clarity in the institutional set up, limited statements of the role and functions of the proposed Food Safety Authority.

In addition, lack of detail to address key food safety concerns and lack of clarity in streamlining institutional mandates render the 2013 Policy an insufficiently precise guide for building a responsive food safety system.

The draft Food Safety Policy, 2021 envisages an effective and efficient food safety system that aims at securing access to safe and quality food for all, thus reducing morbidity and mortality rates arising from food borne illnesses/diseases and facilitating trade.

Policies to ensure consumer protection

The broad policy objectives are to ensure consumer protection through safe food throughout the supply chain, to align food control o local, regional and global requirements, in order to facilitate trade and to increase food safety awareness at all levels.

It is expected that all players in the food safety continuum will provide the necessary infrastructure for the successful implementation of the National Food Safety Policy.

The policy will be implemented through the national food control strategy; strengthening of food safety infrastructure and institutional frameworks; compliance to food safety requirements.

The Food and Feed Safety Coordination Bill shall apply to every Competent Authority or subject matter specialist involved in the control of food or feed safety in Kenya.

The bill seeks to develop regulations that provide for the establishment of a science-based framework for regulating food and feed safety matters to ensure protection of consumers’ health, produce contamination to coordinate food safety functions and facilitate fair practices in food trade.

It also seeks to establish the Office of the Food Safety Controller managed by a Board and for connected purposes.

With the implementation of the law, the Ministry hopes to provide effective coordination of all stakeholders involved in the control of food and feed safety. It also hopes to provide a mechanism of enhancing accountability in the implementation of food and feed safety control.

In line with this, the Ministry has organized a national validation workshop on 16th February 2022 at Movenpick Hotel located in Westlands, Nairobi as from 9.00am.

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