A miller in Machakos is counting losses after the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) ordered the withdrawal of 17 maize meal products from the market over fears of aflatoxin contamination.
Daniel Maundu who is the proprietor of Machakos Millers which produces the popular Jomba maize flour brand says he is currently incurring losses of up to Sh 1.2 million daily following the ban that was announced on January 29. 2020.
He now claims the announcement by Kebs was ill-informed and could impact badly on local millers besides affecting hundreds of people who subsist on its products which also include cassava, millet and amaranth flour.
“We have already complied with the Kenya Bureau of Standards regulations since we came into the business and what we are producing now is consumer-friendly. The latest move to list our product is therefore malicious and ill-advised. We suspect this could be a ploy to kill our businesses and leave our competitors to benefit from our misery,” said Mr. Maundu when KNA visited the premises located at the Machakos Industrial area on Thursday.
The government slapped a ban on 17 maize brands last week after it emerged that samples collected for the brands had high levels of aflatoxin.
Among brands that have been affected by the ban include Dola, Tetema (Eldoret Grain Millers), Afya (Meru Multipurpose Cooperative), African King (African Kings Maize millers) and Shiba (Grango Suba Millers).
This is the second time in less than four months that the quality assurance agency is banning maize brands form the market due to suspected aflatoxin.
In November last year Kebs barred Alpha Grain Millers, Kitui Flour mills, Kenblest Limited, Kensel Rise Limited and Pan African Grain millers from production until they meet the required safety standards.
Muandu now says the government should immediately lift the suspension to relieve their suffering which has prompted buyers to return the products to the miller.
He says a total of 143 bales of the Jomba maize flour have already been returned which translates to thousands of shillings in losses.
The miller produces at least 2,880 kilograms of maize flour on a daily basis and is among the leading millers in Machakos County.
“Our products undergo all the required safety tests including to ascertain the moisture content before we proceed to the milling process. We were therefore perturbed when our brand was banned from the sale even after meeting all the healthy standards requirements. We, therefore, urge the government to lift the suspension as we are going through a difficult period,” he added.
Meanwhile, all the supermarkets in Machakos town and its environs have already adhered to the government announcement of suspending the 17 maize flour brands from the market.
A spot check by KNA has revealed that all the major supermarkets including Naivas, Massmart and Mulleys had already withdrawn the banned brands from their shelves.
Aflatoxins are poisonous carcinogens and mutagens that are produced by certain molds that grow in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains.
When contaminated food is processed, aflatoxins enter the general food supply where they have been found in both pet and human foods, as well as in feedstock for farm animals.