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We don't recognize second generation drinks, KEBS declares

By Rawlings Otieno | July 7th 2015

NAIROBI: Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) does not recognise products registered as second generation alcoholic beverages and drinks, Managing Director Charles Ongwae has said.

Ongwae said that it is a street term which describes alcoholic drinks that are made simply by mixing Neutral Spirit (food grade ethanol), Water and Flavours.

The alcoholic drinks do not go through fermentation and or distillation processes at the premises of the bottling companies.

According to NACADA, it describes second generation alcoholic drinks as recently introduced drinks that are low priced and have high alcohol content.

“The alcoholic drinks registered by KEBS that fit the descriptions are potable spirits that are regulated by East Africa Standard (EAS) 109. This is the reason why we have suspended the permits of potable spirits,” said Ongwae.

KEBS has also included traditional spirits in the suspended category and these are covered by Kenya Standard (KS) 2326.

The MD explained that the alcohol (neutral spirit) content in both standards i.e. EAS 109 and KS 2326 is between 35 – 57 per cent.

This means that the water content ranges from 65 to 43 per cent depending on the mix or strength that the manufacturer is targeting.

“EAS 109 is a harmonized standard and hence is used by all the EAC Partner States to regulate the manufacturing of potable spirits,” he said.

Ongwae noted that unscrupulous businessmen and women have been counterfeiting KEBS quality marks by using already used bottles of established manufacturers to package their illicit products.

“Counterfeiting is a big problem globally. Some of these businessmen and women are also using used bottles of established companies to package their illicit brews. It requires more than one government agency to stop counterfeiting and use of used bottles,” he added.

In an exclusive interview with The Standard yesterday, Ongwae noted that KEBS has recognized that there is an urgent need to make it difficult for unscrupulous people to counterfeit the Marks.

And in order to help fight the issue of counterfeit products, KEBS is now in the process of implementing a solution that will deliver new secured marks complete with a track and trace capability.

Each secure mark will have unique features that are difficult to counterfeit and also can be confirmed by consumers using their mobile phones by sending a text.

According to Ongwae, KEBS has already engaged a supplier for the secured Marks which will have highly secured features.

The revelation comes in even as investors under the banner of National Alcoholic Beverages Association of Kenya (Nabak) are preparing to seek legal redress over the loss their businesses have suffered, courtesy of a Presidential directive on war against ‘killer brews’.

The association that comprises of East African Breweries Limited (EABL), Kenya Wines Agencies (KWAL), African Spirits Limited, Keroche Industries and London Distillers wants the government to compensate for the loss and destruction of their legitimate business that is now losing an estimated Sh 100 million daily.

Nabak is now demanding for immediate clarification and publication of all approved alcoholic brands by the government, an immediate stop to harassment and intimidation of legitimate business and arrest and prosecution of anyone involved in criminal destruction of property and products under this exercise.

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