The Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) has warned that passing the bill that seeks to create Kenya Food and Drug Authority (KFDA) will result to duplication of functions already being carried out by other bodies.
The Society CEO, Dr. Daniella Munene said the regulation of foods and drugs could not be condensed into one body as it would not have the capacity to regulate over 36 functions currently being carried out by different state agencies.
The bill that seeks to create the KEDA is already before the National Assembly and comes a week after it emerged that some shopping outlets were using chemical preservatives on meat, milk and vegetables.
Dr. Munene regretted that the proposal to merge regulation of foods and drugs by one Authority which will comprise of 10-15 members drawn from both sectors was unrealistic and might compromise the safety and quality of food.
Munene explained that the process of regulation of food was long as it starts right from production of farm produce to the ready food on the table and entails an entire Agriculture value chain.
“The process will also include animal feeds as well as public health regulation which is so wide and might compromise the food quality,” he said.
Saying the proposed authority will have 18 functions covering the food sector and 18 others covering the health sector, the CEO said the functions were already being carried out by over six boards including AFA, Kenya Veterinary Board, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Kenya Dairy Board, Kenya Public Health Board, National Bio-Safety Authority and Kenya Bureau of Standards.
“Given the already inefficient regulation of the food sector that the country is experiencing, how will regulating the two industries together work out for KEDA”, he posed.
Munene who spoke to the press in Naivasha over the weekend said the Ministry of agriculture was in the process of setting up its own Kenya Food Safety Authority that would ensure consumer food safety and promotion of domestic and international trade of food products produced in Kenya.
He further explained that with the new bill, it will mean that all the agriculture functions will go under the new Authority adding that the neighboring Tanzania, who recently adopted a similar strategy using their TFDA had decided to disband the authority after realizing that it compromised on their quality of foods.
The Bill provides for the establishment of the Authority to among others regulate and monitor the manufacture, processing, distribution, warehousing, wholesale and importation of food in Kenya.
The Authority will also provide scientific advice and technical support to the national government and the county governments in matters of framing the policy and rules in areas which have a direct or indirect bearing on food safety and nutrition.
By Esther Mwangi/Mary Gathoni