Kenya takes drastic measure to get rid of poisonous sugar circulating the country

The Director of Public Health Kepha Ombacho says the tests are aimed at ascertaining the "wholesomeness" of table sugar.

The government has directed all manner of sugar traders to undertake laboratory analysis of all their sugar consignments.

The Director of Public Health Kepha Ombacho says the tests are aimed at ascertaining the "wholesomeness" of table sugar.

“We have noted with concern that unsafe sugar has been placed in the market for human consumption, which could be injurious to the health of consumers.

"As a supplier/stockist, you are advised to subject all sugar to sampling testing and analysis to ascertain its safety before selling the same to the public,” he said in a letter entitled: "Counterfeit Sugar in the market".

Dr Ombacho added that the government will then issue business people with sugar clearance certificates to provide proof of their sugar is safe for human consumption.

All sugar meant for human consumption must conform to sugar standards, defined under KS/EAS5,2009 for refined sugar and KS/EAS 749,2010 for brown sugar, according to the public official.

The sugar must as well as meet the set provisions of the Food, Drugs and Chemical Substances Act.

The move comes days after sugar destined for sale in retail chains were seized and upon tasting were found to be laced with dangerous insoluble metals such as copper and mercury.

The month-long raid has since impounded assorted goods worth Sh1.2 billion.

Dr Ombacho said county and national public health officers will intensify surveillance, with impromptu samples being collected for testing to ensure proper standards are adhered to.

“Be notified that the active surveillance by national and county health ministries will sustain active surveillance of sugar to ascertain compliance and if [anyone is] found to have contravened the said laws and national standards, the product will be withdrawn from the market and legal action taken against the offending person (entity),” he said.

The directive will likely result in an increase in the price of sugar as the traders will pass the burden to consumers.

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