Blame game greets report on ugali, chapati quality

Chapati prepared using Prosopis juliflora (Mathenge Tree) pods. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

A blame game has emerged between millers and Government over the quality of maize and wheat flour in supermarkets.

This comes after a report by the Ministry of Health indicated that a wide range of maize meal and wheat flour branded as fortified did not have the additional nutrients indicated on their packets.

The United Grain Millers Association (UGMA) – an alliance of small and medium scale millers – said they were not to blame, as the imported premixes used in the fortification were substandard.

Premixes are added to the flour after milling, to add essential micro-nutrients that are deficient in maize, wheat and other food products after manufacturing. The premix importers and suppliers are prequalified by the ministry. “We are willing to fully comply with the fortification policy, but we cannot do so when the premixes we use cannot pass the test. We did not know the problem initially until our unga failed to pass the test, and that is when we took the premixes to the lab,” said UGMA vice chairman Ken Nyaga.

Kenya has prioritised four food products – maize, wheat flour, table salt, and vegetable fats and oils – to be fortified in line with legal requirements enforced in 2012.

But the fortification programme’s coordinator Daniel Sila said the premixes had passed through requisite tests by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and were up to standard.

“Kebs offers certificates of compliance to the suppliers yearly after testing the premix samples. As a research institution, we also help in testing the premixes, and I can assure you they are not the problem,” the JKUAT food technologist said.