Kebs blows hot and cold on ‘bad’ sugar

New twist in saga after standards body claims commodity that failed tests was in Brazilian bags

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) yesterday claimed 837,244 bags of sugar whose samples were tested and analysed were not fit for human consumption.

At the same time, it assured Kenyans the sugar currently in the market is not contaminated. That implies that Kenyans are not nearer the truth now any more than they were when the ‘bad’ sugar saga started.

Appearing before the joint committee investigating the contraband sugar scandal, Kebs disclosed that out of the 1,319,668 50-kg bags representing 66 samples of sugar seized in various locations, 157,392 bags complied with the standards but 837,244 failed.

Further, some 705,000 bags of the 837,244 that failed the test were from the lot declared as sugar meant for reprocessing and the remainder of the sugar 132,244 bags was found to have high level moisture content, yeast and molds, colour, total viable count and polarisation.

Kebs director in-charge of quality and assurance Bernard Nguyo said the sugar that has failed tests was in bags marked Brazilian Raw Sugar, Diamond Wholesalers Limited and Kabras Sugar Limited.

He also said the contaminated sugar seized from go-downs owned by companies such as Diamond Wholesalers Limited was stored in appalling conditions.

The 17 of the 47 counties whose sugar has so far been sampled in market surveillance are Embu, Kajiado, Kilifi, Kwale, Machakos, Makueni, Murang’a, Nairobi, Nandi, Nyeri, Taita Taveta, Uasin Gishu, Kiambu, Kakamega, Mombasa and Lamu. However, sugar from Mandera, Wajir, Turkana and Tana River counties was not tested. Kebs acting managing director Moses Ikiara said the current sugar in the market is fit for human consumption. Although he disapproved claims raised by Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i that the sugar in the market is laced with mercury and copper, he said that the bureau will conclude testing by the end of the week.

But members of the committee said they were not satisfied with the results and insisted that the standards body provides them with a list of the companies that imported the contaminated sugar.

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