The government is holding about 1.4 million bags of sugar across the country, which is unfit for human consumption, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has said.
The revelation comes as the government prepares to destroy contraband goods worth Sh1.2 billion.
The goods include fertiliser, sugar and alcohol that were impounded by officials from the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
About 72 people have since been arrested and charged in court in the ongoing crackdown on contraband products in the country.
Dr Matiang’i made the comment on Thursday when he appeared before a parliamentary panel probing contraband sugar business in the country.
The Agriculture and Trade, Industry and Cooperatives committees of the National Assembly are investigating the matter where some unscrupulous individuals took advantage of a gazette notice by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to flood the local market with the poisonous commodity.
The quality of sugar consumed by Kenyans became a matter of public concern after Mr Matiang’i claimed that the government had seized sugar laced with mercury and copper.
But, the Interior minister and his Trade counterpart Adan Mohamed issued a joint statement clarifying that the sugar was only “contaminated” with traces of copper, not mercury.
On Thursday, Dr Matiang’i assured the country that the sugar in the supermarket shelves is good for human consumption even as MPs accused him of issuing alarming statements and making genuine traders incur huge losses.
“Any sugar that is in the market has been tested by the relevant government agencies and is good. The one that is held, I cannot vouch for it because it is contaminated. There could be more,” Dr Matiang’i told the country denying claims that his comments had caused alarm.
Besides sugar, the CS said that there is also contraband fertiliser, fruit juice, tomato ketchup among others in the market, which are not good for human consumption.
The two committees probing the matter have until Tuesday next week to table its report. The Trade committee is chaired by Kieni MP Kanini Kega while that of Agriculture is chaired by Mandera South MP Adan Ali.
The CS noted that the impounded commodity had been brought into the country through the port of Mombasa and the porous border points and that it has links to funding terrorism and insecurity within the borders.
“Our porous border points are not just problems with importation of sugar, it is a serious challenge with smuggling into the country of arms,” he said.
Even as the CS gave an assurance that the government will not relent until the country is free of the poisonous sugar, he said that the criminals involved in the illicit trade are working hard to make money from unsuspecting Kenyans.
This comes as it was revealed during the tour by MPs that the go downs where sugar is stored, are in pathetic conditions.