KENYA – Patiala Distillers, an alcohol manufacturing company, has taken legal action against the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to contest a decision that has halted the production of three of its beverage brands: Flying Horse Vodka, Flying Horse Gin, and Diamond Ice.

This move comes in the wake of KEBS’ directive to cease the manufacture of these brands, following nationwide complaints about their compromised quality. The situation escalated after 34,000 bottles of the said brands, valued at Sh6 million (U.S$ 41.8 thousand), were destroyed in Karatina, Nyeri county, in an event led by local politicians.

KEBS’ letter to Patiala Distillers, dated February 27, instructed the company to suspend the manufacture and sale of the mentioned products and to initiate a comprehensive recall from the market.

The regulatory body cited concerns over the potential harm to consumers due to the quality of these products. In contrast, Patiala Distillers maintains that all its products comply with KEBS standards and suggests that the actions against its brands are driven by competitive forces in the market.

The distiller’s appeal to the Standards Tribunal in Nairobi argues that KEBS’ decision was made without providing Patiala Distillers the opportunity for administrative action that is expedient, efficient, lawful, reasonable, and procedurally fair.

The company contends that it did not receive prior and sufficient notice regarding the suspension of its permit to use the KEBS standardization mark, which signifies the agency’s approval of a product for market entry.

Patiala Distillers has voiced concerns over what it perceives as malicious motives behind the suspension, pointing to market competition, particularly in Mathira constituency, Nyeri county.

The company highlighted actions by the area’s Member of Parliament, who has been accused of publicly discrediting Patiala Distillers’ alcohol brands and prematurely announcing their suspension on social media before the official regulatory decision was made public.

The lawsuit emphasizes the company’s belief that the regulatory action taken against it was influenced more by these alleged attacks than by any verified quality issues with its products.

Patiala Distillers, which has been operating in the market since 2009, insists that its brands have been well-received in Kenya without any documented standards compliance failures. The company seeks to overturn KEBS’ suspension decision, arguing that it is unreasonable and unfairly jeopardizes its business operations.

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