Food standards could hamper Kenya’s global trade, warn experts

Tuesday, July 26th, 2022 05:13 | By
Shoppers at maize flour shelf at a supermarket in Kitengela town yesterday. PHOTO/ Christine Musa

Kenya is deepening its quality standards in food processing and handling to avoid being locked out of the lucrative global trade.

This, as food safety challenges make Africa among the most vulnerable continents to trade restrictions.

During a Africa Food Safety and Quality summit that brought together global experts to share latest trends in science and technology, it emerged that there is a need for sustainable adoption of food safety principles and technologies in the agriculture and food value chain.

Last Friday, Kenya also joined the rest of the world in standardising its farm produce value chain to enhance food quality, and regulate its food handling sector.

 Best practices

Agricultural and Food Authority (AFA) and the Retail Trade Association of Kenya (Retrak) unveiled the KEBS Standard KS1758, which is meant to help farmers adopt best practices to meet market demands.

It is designed to ensure that produce arrives in markets with the same safety and quality.

Retail Trade Association of Kenya (Retrak) CEO Wambui Mbarire (right) noted that the KS1758 code would fill a major gap that has exposed Kenyans to unaudited supply of food, in terms of quality and safety.

Kenchic managing director Jim Tozer recommended that, on food safety and quality standards, lack of enforcement remains a key challenge. “The standards are there, but they are not imposed in a fair and consistent way. For this to be achieved, a level playing field is needed, which means that all producers must be held to the same standards,” said Tozer.

Emerging problems

Experts warn that Africa is not immune to emerging food safety, quality and compliance issues — such as the Covid-19 pandemic, new pathogens, animal welfare issues and antimicrobial resistance.

Governments, food producers, retailers and consumers must therefore work together to ensure and implement the standards and safety of food systems.

- Jacktone Lawi

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