Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot has sponsored the Food and Feed Safety Coordination Control Bill 2023, which seeks to establish a legal framework for food safety collaboration between the national and county governments.
The bill, which is before the Senate, aims to establish the Office of the Food Safety Controller to provide for the role of county governments in food and feed safety in order to ensure the supply of safe food across the country.
Cheruiyot said that the bill is necessary to ensure that food is safely produced, distributed, processed, marketed, and prepared for human consumption from the farm.
The bill also provides for the coordination of competent authorities, multi-annual control plans, verification of mechanisms utilized by competent authorities to enforce food and feed safety requirements, and audits of food safety or feed safety mechanisms.
The bill also provides for traceability requirements, reference laboratories for purposes of official control, the submission of reports on food safety and feed safety to the Controller, the appointment of compliance officers, and the powers of compliance officers.
The bill also makes consequential amendments to the Public Health Act, Food, Drugs and Chemical Substances Act, Dairy Industry Act, Fertilizers and Animal Foodstuffs Act, Pest Control Products Act, Meat Control Act, Standards Act, Biosafety Act, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service Act, Agriculture and Food Authority Act, Fisheries Management and Development Act, Water Act, and Health Act to provide for the role of the Controller and for the multi-annual control plan.
The bill also confers on the Cabinet Secretary in charge of the relevant Ministry the powers to make Regulations under the Act for the purposes of operationalizing the Act in order to implement the objectives.
Cheruiyot said that the bill is necessary to fulfil Article 43(1)(c) of the Constitution on socio-economic rights as read with Article 46 on consumer protection.
The bill also concerns county governments in terms of Articles 110(1)(a) of the Constitution in that it contains provisions that affect the functions and powers of the county governments as set out in the Constitution.
The bill seeks the creation of the position of Food Safety Controller who shall be appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament. The holder of this position must have a Master's Degree in the relevant field and have 15 years’ experience working in a field related to food safety.
The Controller may be appointed for a term of three years and shall be eligible for reappointment for a final term of three years.
The Controller's functions include coordinating the competent authorities through the implementation of the multi-annual control plan, developing and reviewing a multi-annual national control plan, monitoring and evaluating the implementation of a multi-annual control plan at the national level, liaising with competent authorities to identify and advise on policy gaps and inadequate regulation in food safety and feed safety, assessing the adequacy of food safety and feed safety preparedness and making recommendations to the relevant competent authority, and establishing an information management system for food safety and feed safety in the country.
The Controller is also required to verify that competent authorities have put in place systems for effective official control, prepare an annual report on the state of food safety in Kenya, and perform such other duties as may be necessary to ensure food safety and feed safety.
The bill also states that the functions of a county government in relation to food safety and feed safety in the respective county shall be to implement and enforce food safety and feed safety measures, license and exercise official control of persons who conduct food business and feed business, conduct capacity building on food safety and feed safety, conduct public awareness on matters food safety and feed safety, prepare county food safety and feed safety reports, provide a platform for the consultation and cooperation of the County Governments and stakeholders in the implementation of a multi-annual control plan, conduct audits to ascertain compliance and enforcement of food safety and feed safety measures, coordinate food safety and feed safety activities, regulate and enforce official control, and monitor and evaluate implementation of the multi-annual control plan.
The bill requires each county government at least thirty days before the end of a financial year to prepare an annual report on the state of food safety and feed safety in the respective County and submit the report to the Controller.
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