The Kenyan government has set up a multi-sectoral working committee to coordinate enforcement of various regulations affecting food safety in the country.
This follows recent trends of illegal activities in the food sector such as adulteration, poor hygiene, improper handling and misuse of chemicals.
The committee brings together ministries related to food production, safety, trade and enforcement of regulations.
These are the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government.
Speaking after the inaugural meeting, Livestock PS Harry Kimutai said the government has committed itself to support the production of safe food to ensure the growth of a healthy and secure nation.
“The various government agencies represented here are directly involved in ensuring food safety and would like to assure consumers that food in the markets, including meat products, is safe for consumption. The committee has further discussed mechanisms that will enhance enforcement to rid the market of the few unscrupulous traders,” Kimutai said.
The committee deliberated on five immediate action points; How the government will enhance enforcement of food safety regulations, review of the legal framework to harmonise regulations for effective food safety and commit to engage the private sector for a robust self regulation mechanism.
It also looked into formulation of a capacity building plan for the market actors and creating consumer awareness on safety of food products.
“The responsibility to enforce regulations on food safety and security is enshrined in various laws and organizations. It is therefore necessary that enforcement of these regulations is done in a coordinated manner, which is why we have formed this multi-agency team,” the PS said.
The committee has also roped in the State agencies responsible for enforcement of food safety standards like the Kenya Bureau of Standards, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Department and Directorate of Veterinary Services, among others.
Also present at the meeting were non-state actors like the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Kenya Markets Trust and the German development agency, GIZ.
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Other agencies in the multi-sectoral committee include the National Police Service, National Intelligence Service, the Kenya Dairy Board, Pest Control Products Board, Agriculture Food Authority, Veterinary Medicines Directorate, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation, the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project and the Kenya Cereal Enhancement Program.