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KEBS sounds warning on wrong labels

NAIROBI, July 9 – The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Wednesday issued a directive to fruit juice and water manufacturers to comply with the required standards in the next one year, or risk having their businesses being shut down.

Managing Director Kioko Mang’eli said that within the specified period, the manufacturers have to use the right pictorials on the packages, the right fruits and the right quantities.

“Whatever you put on a package must be what is inside it. So you can’t have pictorials of, for example, a mango when there is no mango in it,” he emphasised.

“The idea is to eliminate cheating and misleading the market, and we are now trying to protect the consumers who are mainly children.” 

This instruction followed an observation by KEBS that most juices in the market were falsely labelled as fruit juices.

“Sometimes they don’t even have the right quantities of sugar on the labels,” Mang’eli added.

He stressed that the amount of food colour used also has to be of the specified standards, to avoid negative impacts on the consumer.

“But you cannot destroy a whole industry without first trying to mitigate the issues surrounding the industry,” he commented.

“When they put up the factories, people were not thinking scientific but now there is a scientific testing and penalising process if you continue misleading people.” 

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Manufacturers have until April next year to fully comply.

At the same time, the bureau has reintroduced a Kenyan standardisation mark that was introduced in 1974 but never implemented, to make local products acceptable in the regional markets.

Mang’eli also noted that it would ensure aggressive competition of the local products with imports.

“The mark has been there since the inception of the bureau and is meant to open access in the regional market as well as the national market.”

He clarified that the re-introduced mark is not an East African standardisation mark as indicated in some reports, but a local standardisation mark that is acceptable within the East African countries, which include Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.

“It is also acceptable in any other country that we have a memorandum of understanding with in trade, which includes countries like Zambia and Egypt,” he added.

Mang’eli said although the diamond mark of quality that has been in use was of a higher level, it had brought about an imbalance of trade within the region, which he said was not convenient for Kenya.

About 1,500 products have already been certified with the mark.

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