September 21, 2020

There is no mercury in seized sugar, KEBS now says

There were no traces of mercury in the sugar samples seized by the multi agency task force on contraband goods, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has said.

KEBS Managing Director Charles Ongwae said that thorough tests on samples confirmed there was no mercury.

“The sugar samples were tested against EAS 749:210, the sugar samples were further tested for heavy metals contaminants as a result of public outcry and no mercury was detected. I want to be very specific that no mercury has been detected in the samples that we have tested,” Ongwae told the Trade Commitee on Thursday.

The KEBS boss added the first round of results were shared with the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and more would be shared once tests are completed.

Ongwae further pointed out that imported sugar is normally tested in the country of origin and at the point of entry.

“For sugar to be cleared at the point of entry, the following Government agencies must approve release based on their individual requirements. The KRA for customs and tax issues, KEBS for quality, Port health for food safety, Sugar directorate top confirm that they actually issued that license and the radiation protection board for safety and the Kenya Port Authority for logistics,” he said.

Ongwae’s take is in line with what Trade Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed said on Wednesday but sharply differs with Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, exposing confusion in Government.

Matiang’i had announced that the sugar seized in Eastleigh had mercury while quoting tests from the State Chemist.

Parliament on Wednesday tasked two departmental committees – the Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Committee and the Agriculture Committee – to probe how the illegal sugar found its ways in stores in the country.

The Agriculture committee summoned Devolution CS Mwangi Kiunjuri, Adan, Treasury CS Henry Rotich and Matiang’i on Monday over the sugar saga.

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