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Kenya rejects food controls

20th July 2010

Health authorities in Kenya have decided not to implement some of the food standards proposed by a United Nations joint commission.

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One of the food standards limits the amount of melamine that is allowed in food.

However, Kenyan authorities say that the proposed limit was redundant for their country, since they already consider melamine to be a harmful substance.

The proposed standards came from The Codex Alimentarius Commission, which released guidelines last week limiting the amount of melamine in powdered infant formula to one milligram per kilogramme of food.

The guidelines also limit the amount of melamine allowed in other foods and animal feed, to 2.5 mg/kg.

The main intent of the standards proposed by the commission is to limit people's exposure to melamine.

Melamine is a synthetic chemical used widely in industry. Cleaning products, pesticides, resins, and foams all involve the use of melamine.

A senior official from the Kenya Bureau of Standards, who refused to be named, said that Kenya did not allow melamine into the country.

Other officials declined to comment.

Jean Banda, the executive director of Kenya Kidney and Lupus Foundation, said that the chemical was proven to lead to kidney failure and kidney stones.

The global recall of infant food made in China, which happened about two years ago, had to do with the intentional addition of melamine to infant formula.

Companies that produced infant formula added melamine to their products on purpose, because it seemed to increase the amount of protein in the formula.

Due to this decision, hundreds of thousands of babies became very sick, and some died.

In Kenya, most mothers use infant formula manufactured in the UK, and the damage done to babies was limited there.

Martijn Weijtens, chair of the Codex Committee, said that establishing maximum melamine levels would help governments make decisions about what to allow.

He said it was important to see the difference between low levels of unavoidable melamine occurrence that did not cause overt health problems, and deliberate contamination, as happened in China.

More than 500 delegates from 130 countries attended the commission, which was in its 33rd session.

The commission also focused on recommendations for salads and seafoods, which can become contaminated with salmonella, E coli, and hepatitis A.

Kenya exports fresh fruits and vegetables to the European market, so its exports would theoretically fall under the new regulations, which are not binding to UN member countries.

 


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Article Information

Title: Kenya rejects food controls
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 15557
Date Added: 20th Jul 2010

Sources

UN Guidelines on Melamine Use Snubbed

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