Edible oil manufacturers are demanding that the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) now agrees to joint testing of iron in batches of their products whose sales have been suspended for non -compliance with standards.
Players in the sector who stormed out of a meeting with government officials on Monday told the Business Daily that Bidco Africa, Pwani Oil, Kapa Oil and Menengai want the test done jointly as they disputed the Kebs results.
The Standards body last week suspended the sale of the 10 brands with specific batches from the four firms after subjecting the oil and fats to tests at their laboratory.
The test proved that the products fell short of their standard for edible oils and fats – identified as KS EAS 769: KS 2019 – with regards to the quantity of iron.
“We hope they will allow us to do a joint testing. Even by a court of law, how do you prove yourself guilty or innocent unless both parties have gone through a process?,” a highly placed source privy to the matter told the Business Daily in confidence on Monday.
“The process is either you allow for independent testing — which we have done — and accept those results, or allow us to be present at your laboratories when you test.”
The revelation is coming at a time Kebs has threatened to sue the four major manufacturers for selling sub-standard cooking oil and cooking fats brands into the market.
Kebs managing director Bernard Njiraini said the manufacturers will be taken to court for selling cooking oil and fats that had a series of contaminated batches contrary to the law.
“We will take them to court once we establish that the specific batches of cooking oil and fats did not meet standards. It is the responsibility of the manufacturers to ensure the products meet stands,” said Mr Njiraini.
“We are disputing their results. We have given independent results from their accredited laboratories confirming that we have complied. We are not accepting that the iron content is higher than the standard,” said the source.
The standard sets out the requirement for iron as 2.5 mg/Kg (milligrams per kilo) at the maximum.
However, the results from the test that were done by Kebs on the specific batches found that a specific set of batches of cooking oil and fats that were released in the market by the firms ranged between 4.6mg/kg-198.99mg/kg.
Consumption of iron above the recommended dietary allowance of 16mg per day for men and 12mg per day for women can have repercussions such as liver damage, vomiting and diarrhoea as well as abdominal pain.
In addition, a high level of iron in edible oil also has an impact on the quality of the oil and its rate of deterioration.
“The higher the level of contaminant iron, the higher the frequency of trips to the till to buy more edible oil which disenfranchises the consumer who has to spend more on cooking oil and even creates an uneven playing field giving undue advantage to the non-compliant brands,” said Mr Njiraini.
Of the banned products, Bidco was ordered to recall Bahari Fry batch number 107921 and Olive Gold batch number 105948, with Pwani Oil removing its four oil brands –Fresh Fri batch number FF1L17487D, Fresh Fri with Garlic batch number FF500175260, fry mate batch number 8941D and Salit batch number SS1L17472D.
Kapa Oil Refineries was advised to recall Postman of batch number 0210322B, Rina oils of batch number 0340522B, as well as Tilly cooking fat of batch number 152222A, with Menengai withdrawing its Top Fri oil of batch number OL4A3 MF9.25.05.22.