Health Ministry now backtracks on maize

May 19, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – The Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation has assured Kenyans that all imported maize in circulation is generally fit for human consumption.

In a statement faxed to newsrooms late on Monday, Permanent Secretary Mark Bor said that all maize imported into the country had been inspected by competent authorities.

He reaffirmed the ministry’s commitment to continue monitoring the distribution of the commodity and urged Kenyans to be vigilant to any suspicious activity which might affect food safety.

“The Public Health Officers will continue to undertake surveillance to ensure food safety and if there is anything suspicious, it should be reported to the nearest health office,” Mr Bor stated.

The PS further assured that the consignment of 6,254.530 metric tonnes of contaminated maize from South Africa was in the custody of the Kenya Revenue Authority.

He said that the maize would be disposed of expeditiously under the watchful eye of the government.

“This maize is awaiting reshipment or destruction under strict government supervision,” Mr Bor stated. 

He urged Kenyans to exercise patience and not to panic over the imported maize.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga had last week dismissed reports that the contraband maize recovered in parts of Central Kenya was the same that was declared unsafe at the port of Mombasa.

In Parliament last week and backed by numerous documents, the Premier told MPs that the imported maize that was found to be unfit for human consumption is still being held at the port, contrary to reports that the maize was on sale in some parts of the country.

In the past week, maize in South African-labelled bags was recovered in Murang’a and parts of Nairobi, raising fears that the recently imported maize could be in circulation even though it was declared unfit for human and animal consumption.

Kenya Bureau of Standards Managing Director Dr Kioko Mange’li had also allayed fears that the maize being sold in the country was contaminated.

He had confirmed that the maize in the market is fit for human consumption, refuting claims that contaminated maize has found its way into the Kenyan market.

Fears that contaminated maize is being consumed in the country came about after Public and Health Minister Beth Mugo alleged that 6,254.53 metric tonnes of maize that had tested unfit for consumption had disappeared from the Mombasa port.

The maize that was offloaded at the port of Mombasa from MV Fonarun Naree last year has created confusion among Kenyans following reports by government agencies that the maize was unfit for human consumption after high levels of aluminum phosphide that could cause food poisoning and cancer were detected in the grain.

Mr Mang’eli however said that the maize in circulation in the country has been certified as fit for human consumption.


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