Vegetables, fruits sold locally get new safety standards

A groceries shop in Nyeri town. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Local consumers of horticulture produce are now assured of their safety following the unveiling of new standards, a departure from the previous practice where only export commodities were subjected to quality checks.

The launch of the Kenya Bureau of Standards backed KS1758 will now ensure that whatever is consumed locally is also safe for consumers and adheres to international practice on the minimal levels of pesticides accorded to exports.

The bulk of Kenya’s horticulture produce is consumed locally with only four percent finding its way to the export market.

Kenya Standard 1758:2016 (KS1758) is a code of practice for the country’s horticulture industry, outlining the sanitary and safety criteria for the production and handling, and sale of flowers, ornamentals, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.

It is divided into two, with Part one dealing with floriculture and part two dealing with fruits and vegetables.

The rolling out of the standards started last week with the launch at Beyond Fruit, a local outlet dealing with fresh produce.

The new safety code has also been rolled out in the Kongowea market starting with mchicha- a popular traditional vegetable at the coast. It will also be rolled out in hotels and restaurants as well as other open-air markets.

The produce that has been certified as being safe will be clearly labelled on the shelves with the new standard.

“This is a milestone in Kenya’s food industry, food safety is a major component of our existence,” said Agriculture and Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai during the launch.

Beyond Fruit General Manager George Ngugi said they secure their supplies from its Belmont farm in Limuru as well as from the outgrowers suppliers who have been contracted by the outlet.

“Our farm has been certified under the KS1758 standards and so are our suppliers. We assure our customers that tomatoes and other fresh produce that they will buy from our shop have achieved the highest safety measures,” said Mr Ngugi.

The new standard was supported by USAid’s Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems, which is a five-year USAid programme designed to increase agricultural production and reduce poverty and malnutrition in Kenya.

Ojepat Okisekere, chief executive officer of Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya said the standards will play a big role in supporting compliance of food safety in the country and ensuring that consumers get quality produce on the shelves.

“Previously we have been working with international standards that have been focusing on the export market, now we have a standard that addresses the local market as well,” he said.

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