New twist to Kenya maize scam

May 11, 2009

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11 – The Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation has now invited the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) to investigate the alleged disappearance of 6.3 metric tonnes of contaminated maize from the port of Mombasa.

Minister Beth Mugo said on Monday that her officers were on high alert as they could not ascertain the whereabouts of the poisonous maize.

“We have no information as to the whereabouts of the said contaminated maize and we fear it could be in circulation contrary to reports it had been destroyed or will be destroyed,” she said.

Tests carried out on the maize by the government chemist and Kenya Bureau of Standards found that it contained high levels of Aluminum Phoshide which is highly toxic and the chemical could also cause food poisoning and lead to cancer.

“I have written to KACC to investigate this turn of events and any special interest that led to the offloading of the contaminated maize and possible exposure of Kenyans to dangerous and poisonous food,” Mrs Mugo added.

The offloading of the maize goes against the ministry’s directive which called for the consignment to be shipped back to the country of origin.

The maize is said to have been loaded in Maputo, Mozambique and is suspected to have come from South Africa although that is yet to be confirmed.

The minister also wants Mombasa-based Grain Bulk Handlers to explain who authorised the offloading of the tainted maize since it is the only company at the port with permission to offload grain.

The minister directed all public health officers to scale up food safety surveillance especially maize and its products.

At the same time citizens have been urged to only buy maize from trustworthy millers whose products are of quality, but it will be interesting to see how that turns out since the country is currently faced with an acute food shortage.

This is not the first time that maize has been at the centre of controversy in Kenya. Just recently The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Lands and Natural Resources tabled a report in parliament that wanted the Prime Minster to explain the involvement of his family and ministry officials on a maize importation scam.

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