An order to destroy contaminated sugar may open up the Government to penalties after a sugar firm contested test results condemning its brown sugar.
Kwale Sugar Company Ltd has sued the Kenya Bureaus of Standards (Kebs), the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Attorney General, the Trade ministry, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Inspector General of Police for what it calls unlawful seizure, closing down of its operations and subsequent economic loss.
The case, which will be heard on October 8, has seen the destruction of the company’s 5,000 tonnes of sugar in its warehouses at Ramisi put on hold after the court issued temporary stay orders. “That an order of temporary injunction be and is hereby issued restraining the Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Revenue Authority from destroying the sugar of the applicant currently stored in the applicant’s warehouse pending the hearing and determination on October 8, 2018,” said judge Erick Ogola in a ruling delivered on Tuesday.
Benson Nzuka, the firm’s head of legal affairs, in an affidavit said the samples were not collected within the framework provided for in the East African standards on brown sugar.
According to Mr Nzuka, some of the samples were collected by hand, yet they were to undergo microbiological tests, which could have exposed them to contamination. The firm further claimed a re-sampling process was conducted on September 14, this year and the company appointed SGS Kenya and Intertek to carry out independent tests at the same time as Kebs and the product was given a clean bill of health.
“The results given by Kebs on August 2, 2018, had contradicting sample reference numbers, meaning that after two months of testing, Kebs could have issued the wrong results to the company,” said Mr Nzuka.
The results of Kebs retests were still outstanding at the time the case came up.
Kwale Sugar, through lawyer Tom Ojienda, said the company’s sugar was seized although Kebs conducted similar tests in November last year and March this year and given the company a clean bill of health.