NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29 – Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) Secretary General Abbas Gullet has maintained that his organisation is blameless in the saga involving the distribution of contaminated Unimix to schools in parts of Eastern, North Eastern and Coast regions.
Gullet told the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture that the Kenya Red Cross was the whistle blower after it called in the Kenya Bureau of Standards to verify the quality of food that was being supplied to it by Proctor & Allan.
The committee led by Naivasha MP John Mututho heard that the Kenya Bureau of Standards had conducted initial tests at Proctor & Allan’s plant during the manufacture of the food, but not later when the food was already out for distribution as alleged by Proctor’s Managing Director Judy Macharia.
Gullet said that a second test on the food by certification firm SGS also showed that the food actually had unacceptable levels of aflatoxin.
He said that the Kenya Red Cross did not doubt the ability of Proctor & Allan to produce standard food products as it had lived to up to the job in previous engagements.
Gullet said: “Kenya Red Cross is the one that blew the whistle because our principles and values did not allow us not to do so. If we had done any monkey business why would we come out in the open?”
“Indeed it is true that other organisations bought food from the millers (Proctor & Allan and Sai Millers) and have not come out in the open despite the revelations. So when we came out someone wants to turn the tables and make us the black sheep?” he further posed.
He said that 617 tones of the food which has already been recalled was in the possession of the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation.
Earlier in the month, Proctor & Allan said it was yet to receive the tainted food from the Kenya Red Cross for incineration. The manufacturer had previously said it received information of contamination a month after it supplied the food to the Red Cross.
Gullet maintained that the producers of the food should take responsibility for the consequences the food might cause to its consumers.
“The responsibility for the effects should be taken by the millers; they are certified and should ensure that their products are up to standard,” Gullet said adding that in future all the food for emergency purposes will be tested for quality.
Gullet has assured the intended recipients of the food that normal supply will be restored once the 500 tonnes of the Unimix imported from South Africa is cleared at the Port of Mombasa.
More than 270,000 of school going children are feared to have consumed the aflatoxin contaminated Unimix bought under the Kenyans4Kenya initiative. Proctor & Allan were the main millers while Sai Millers were the second supplier of the Unimix.
Sai Millers have however confirmed outsourcing some of the product.
A manager Bina Patel earlier in November said they lacked capacity to produce the required 302 tonnes of Unimix and so they outsourced 180 metric tonnes from two other companies.