The Ministry of Health in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture is crafting a draft Food Safety Bill that seeks to address emerging gaps in food safety concerns for consumers in the country.
Once finalized, the new bill will give relevant authorities in both the national and county governments the mandate to conduct random tests on various food products in the market with an aim of reducing increasing cases of food poisoning in the market.
According to the Ministry of Health Director General, Dr Patrick Amoth, the bill will also provide a leeway for authorities to establish the source of products and farm produce in the market by traders.
Amoth said the ministry is concerned about the increasing cases of drug residues in livestock as well as high chemical content in farm products which posed a great health danger to consumers.
He said the bill would also empower counties to supervise and conduct tests on food samples both in the market and eateries with the aim of shielding consumers from harmful products.
While opening a three-day Multi-Sectoral Coordination Mechanism Operation Tool (MCM – OT) workshop in Naivasha, Amoth said Kenya faces complex health threats that include endemic zoonosis, emerging and re-emerging zoonosis, antimicrobial resistance and food safety issues. Zoonotic diseases are those passed from an animal/insect to a human.
Amoth said a multi-sectoral, one health approach, is therefore necessary to address the threats at the human – animal environment interface to ensure ministries, agencies at both national and county level interact regularly to support preparedness for health challenges and threats to achieve better health for Kenyans.
He added that there’s need for a joint collaboration between the relevant health departments and the department of veterinary services to address cases of drug residue in products.
According to the Director of Veterinary Services at Agriculture Ministry, Dr Harry Oyas, early warning systems are needed in order to detect emerging diseases early before they caused more havoc to humans.
“70 percent of the emerging diseases affects humans with rabies and Rift Valley fever being the most common in Kenya,” he said.
Oyas said there is a need to control both the environmental and animal factors that speed the spread of diseases to human beings.
According to the World Organization for Animal Health Representative, Dr Samuel Wakhusama, there’s need to have adequate capacity to detect and place responsive interventions before spill over.
Wakhusama said the organization has for instance donated 800,000 doses to Siaya County to mitigate against rabies.
By Erastus Gichohi and Calvin Osiemo.