Why powerful officials are contradicting each other on mercury in sugar

Business gone sour?

The allegations of contraband sugar containing mercury and other harmful substances were first made by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i.

Matiang’i had based his claims on an alleged report of tests done by the government chemists which found high amounts of copper, lead, and mercury in some of the contraband sugar seized by the police.

However, the Kenya Bureau of Standards, which is mandated with the role of quality assurance on retail products, did not approve the results.

Industralization CS Adan Mohammed went on record, when he appeared before the Parliamentary Trade committee, to categorically deny the claims made by his counterpart in the Ministry of Interior.

“Tests carried out by KEBS did not find any form of toxic metal as claimed. I however call on anyone with contrary information to alert the authorities,” Mohammed stated.

In a rather uncharacteristic move, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti went to the media to counter the statements made by CS Mohammed before Parliament.

Kinoti, who is Mohammed’s junior in the government’s hierarchy, dismissed the Industrialization CS, adding that “they would meet in court".

“I call upon Kenyans, for heaven’s sake, for all the sugar we have sampled and confiscated, they should not listen to CS Mohammed. I am going to meet him in court.”

“I am ready to be prosecuted should the information that there are traces of mercury be false. The sugar we have nabbed contains harmful substances more harmful than mercury," Kinoti stated.

Several leaders have claimed that mercury is too expensive to be placed in cheap sugar.

However, an expert who spoke to Pulselive.co.ke explained that the impurities suggested do not necessarily mean mercury in its pure state but mercury compounds such as mercuric chloride.

"However, I highly doubt whether mercuric compounds are in the sugar since most of them are insoluble in water and would therefore leave a residue when used in tea or coffee," he added.

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