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Miller disowns Kebs report as it recalls maize flour brand

By Hillary Orinde | November 10th 2019
By Hillary Orinde | November 10th 2019
A packet of Kifaru Maize Meal. The Kenya Bureau of Standards on November 9, 2019 banned its sale over high aflatoxin levels. [Courtesy]

Alpha Grain Limited, the manufacturer of Kifaru Maize Meal has said it will heed the directive to withdraw the product from the market.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) yesterday suspended its permit over the sale of substandard flour, reportedly contaminated with high levels of cancer-causing aflatoxins.

Its licence was suspended alongside Dola maize flour, manufactured by Kitui Flour Mills, Starehe made by Pan African Grain in Nairobi; 210 Two Ten Maize Meal by the Thika-based Kenblest Limited and Jembe maize meal manufactured by Kensalrise Limited in Eldoret.

Kebs said they had instructed the manufacturers to immediately discontinue making the maize flours and recall those already in the market.

In a press statement, Alpha Grain now says Kebs in a letter dated November 7, 2019 notified it of plans to randomly pick samples of Kifaru Maize Meal Batch No. PD/18/9/2019 (21.19) for testing.

“As instructed through the contents of the same letter, we proceeded to withdraw the batch in question for purposes of internal and external testing upon which the test results of tolerance levels were lower (1.51ppb) than the allowed maximum limit of 10ppb,” the statement signed by the commercial manager read.

The maximum aflatoxins level, according to the Kenya Bureau of Standards in maize, is ten parts per billion. Anything above ten is considered to be unfit for human consumption. It is a potent poison.

The miller claims that it had traced back to the specific production and confirmed that it had met the requisite quality standards.

“We distance ourselves from these allegations as a company and assure the public that all products manufactured by Alpha Grain Millers meet the Kebs and EAS quality standard thus fit for consumption,” it said.

Kebs yesterday ordered manufacturers to institute corrective actions to reduce aflatoxin levels in the grain they are using.

“The affected manufacturers will be required to institute corrective actions whose effectiveness shall be confirmed by Kebs before the suspension of permits is lifted,” said Kebs.

The Mombasa-based miller has said it will comply with regulatory authorities on specification and standardisation.

“To our esteemed customers, we assure you of quality products at all times, we seek your patience and understanding, we are optimistic that the soonest your favourite flour will be back on a shelf near you,” the company said.

Earlier today, Carrefour Kenya, a supermarket that was stocking the affected brands also said it will remove the brands from its shelves.

“All the maize flour concerned on Kebs press release have been withdrawn from the shelves preventively, as soon as Carrefour was made aware through RETRAK,” the retailer said on Facebook.

Last week, the standards watchdog suspended the licenses of seven peanut butter makers whose products were also found to have high levels of aflatoxins.

They included; Nuteez by Jetlak Foods Limited, True nuts by Truenutz Kenya, Fressy by Fressy Food Company Limited, Supa meal by Supacosm Products Limited, Sue’s Naturals by Nature’s Way Health, Zesta by Trufoods Limited and Nutty by Nature Target Distributors.

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