KENYA –  In a turn of events, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has defended the operations of the Kigoto Maize Mill, dispelling earlier safety concerns flagged in September.

The mill’s product, ‘Mokwa’ maize flour, was under scrutiny after a KEBS report revealed high levels of aflatoxin, prompting plans for its destruction.

The KEBS report, dated September 13, 2023, revealed that samples taken from the product – ‘Mokwa’ (our flour) – on August 28, 2023 did not meet the requirements of the standard as stated in the test certificate.

The letter, signed by Mr Bernard Sindani for KEBS Lake Region Regional Manager, Mr Andrew Maiyo, also ordered the immediate recall of the affected batch from the market after laboratory tests showed that the maize flour had a high aflatoxin content of 19.46 against the maximum allowed level of 10.

At a joint press briefing with Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga, Mr. Maiyo recently reassured the public that the Mokwa maize flour met all safety specifications and standards mandated by the agency.

He stated that after a thorough inspection of the Kigoto Maize Mill, it was established that not all flour produced by the factory was contaminated.

The KEBS team confirmed that Mokwa was fully certified, and the factory maintained a robust scheme of service and control plan.

Maiyo acknowledged that a specific batch of flour had been found compromised during testing, amounting to 36 bales. He explained that this batch had been used to test a new production system.

“We would like to assure members of the public that KEBS has a scheme of control to ensure the public is not exposed to dangerous products. Kigoto Mills met the requirements in November last year and we certified them,” he said.

The Governor of Homa Bay, Gladys Wanga, affirmed the county’s commitment to promoting industrialization and creating employment opportunities for its residents, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between the government, farmers, and relevant agencies to ensure food safety.

She said products should have value addition and one of the first steps taken by the devolved unit was to ensure that the Kigoto Maize Mill was operational to provide a market for maize farmers.

“We ensured the factory gets certification from KEBS, which has done regular monitoring of the firm as it does with every other industry in the country. Its reports are for internal improvement,” Ms Wanga said.

Suba South MP Caroli Omondi defended the factory, attributing the issues to the moisture content in maize supplied by farmers, stressing the need for enhanced drying solutions to meet national standards.

He urged unity among stakeholders and discouraged interference from unproductive political elements.