Move aside mercury laden sugar, here comes poisonous rice.
Detectives have impounded a staggering one million bags of toxic rice in Mombasa County and also confiscated more than 400 containers of cooking oil which do not meet required standards.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the rice, originally from Pakistan, had been condemned as unfit for human consumption but somehow found its way into Kenya.
The consignment was past the expiry date by three years. In addition, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) refused to clear more than 400 containers of 20kg jerricans of cooking oil from Malaysia.
CID Boss George Kinoti said rogue importers were printing new bags that were transported to the high seas and used to repackage the contaminated rice.
“Yes, it’s true we have impounded about one million bags of rice stored in some warehouses in Mombasa. We believe some of the toxic rice may have been sneaked into the market,” Mr Kinoti said. The DCI said the cartel, working with customs officials, facilitated entry of the contraband rice.
“They print new bags with fresh expiry dates then repackage the rice ready for entry through the port. Some of the rice had been condemned about three years ago as unfit for human consumption,” he added.
Three months ago, rice and expired spaghetti valued at Sh250 million was destroyed after it was declared unfit for human consumption. Kebs said the food, contained in 163 containers, underwent thorough screening before being declared sub-standard. Kebs and KRA have imposed new rules that require all goods destined for Kenya be verified at source.
A team of detectives from the DCI headquarters arrived in Mombasa last week to extend the probe after visiting the KRA headquarters and the Inland Container Depot. In Mombasa, they have interrogated a number of staff and studied how cargo arrives, is inspected and released.