Multi-sectoral players in Kenya’s manufacturing industry have urged the government and consumers to expose and punish manufacturers who engage in unethical practices to gain unfair advantage.
Speaking at the one-day workshop dubbed ‘Food Additives and Food Safety’ that was held yesterday at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Fred Segor noted that the key objective of the Government is consumer protection, hence the government and other industry stakeholders need to collaborate.
“This (collaboration) is important since it can ensure there is variety in food additives and better quality of the same. Consumers need to make informed decisions. However, they can only do this where there is clarity on the substances involved,” said Prof Segor.
The panel of industry experts also urged the Government to augment its efforts in validating and endorsing “regulated” use of food additives in the industry as a way of protecting ethical businesses, protecting jobs and the economic support ecosystems.
“The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS) needs to check that manufacturers use allowable levels of additives. When additives are used to mask certain deficiencies in the product, then you are not only putting the consumer at risk, but also encouraging unfair competition. Consumers should also know what to look for,” urged Prof Imungi.
Clarity to inform consumer choice is a major concern for regulation. This was articulated at the conference by a regulator panel that included KeBS and Ministry of Health.
Dr. Wamwari Waichungo, Coca-Cola’s Vice President for Global Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, said: “We need to alleviate consumer fears. There must be harsh and punitive measures for those who mislead consumers and deliberately adulterate their products. But the whole industry also needs to be accountable.”
The multi-sectoral forum brought together participants from the local food industry, researchers from academia, regulatory agencies, consumer groups and media. It was organised by Coca-Cola, KeBS, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Unilever and JKUAT among other stakeholders.