Supermarkets will from May 1, be required to comply with new regulations that require them to ensure fresh produce, which they buy is tested for higher pesticide residues and other contaminants in a bid to safeguard the welfare of consumers.
This follows establishment of Kenya Standards 1758, which has been developed by stakeholders in horticulture sector with Kebs secretariat.
The rule will now require all vegetables, fruits and beans to be subjected to the same quality standards as those going to export markets before they are placed on the shelves.
Under these new standards, the produce will be tested twice for quality at the source and at the supermarket before they are offered to customers.
Two supermarkets- Naivas and Carrefour, according to FPC have already agreed to be used in the pilot phase before the law takes effect in May.
Fresh Producers Consortium of Kenya (FPC) with other government institutions including Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) will follow up on the matter to ensure compliance.
“We now have standards to enforce the mandatory quality checks to ensure that all fresh produce comply with the minimum required pesticide residues,” said Ojepati Okesegere, chief executive officer of (FPC).
The move implies that all retailers will now have to obtain fresh produce permits from the Directorate of Horticulture if they are to deal with this produce.
Failure to comply with the requirement on quality will see the licenses of culprits revoked and would have to undergo the process of compliance in order to get their permits back.
Kephis managing director Esther Kimani said they will ensure safety of the consumers by making sure that the fresh produce that is sold in supermarkets complies with the required standards.
She said at the moment they are in touch with their counterparts in other regional countries on traceability of the produce that is exported to Kenya.
For a very long time, the produce that ends up at the local market has not been subjected to quality checks, raising concerns over the safety of these food products that are sold in supermarkets or groceries, which have at times been found to be laden with heavy metals.
This comes at a time when Kenya has announced plans to establish a specialised agency to ensure safety of farm produce on sale in local markets amid rising cases of food contamination.
The agency will particularly be tasked with checking the quality of farm produce and levels of harmful chemical residues in goods offered for sale by mama mbogas (vegetable vendors) and other outlets.