The Sugar on the table of millions of households, offices, schools, institutions and hospitals in Kenya could be containing high levels of copper and lead – up to 20 times above the recommended levels.
The shocking admission by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), the State agency mandated to ensure quality and standards, clarified that the normal sugar fit for human consumption contains 2 milligrams of copper per kilogramme.
However, the tests on one of the consignments seized in the ongoing crackdown on contraband sugar that has flooded the market, found that there were 20.7 milligrams of the metal per kiloggramme of sugar.
“The copper that was detected was above the required levels identified by the Kebs standards, making it unfit for consumption. The recommended levels of copper in sugar is supposed to be 2 milligram in one kilogram packet,” the agency said in a report presented to the National Assembly’s Trade Committee.
Charles Ongwae, Kebs managing director after days of denial said copper was found in samples which also indicated that the brown and white sugar had yeast and molds, polarization, color conductivity ash and failed to meet the standard specification.
He told the parliamentary committee that imported sugar is tested and issued with certificate of compliance from the country of origin and once in the country, is further subjected to lab tests.
Kenyans are now stared with heart problems, jaundice, coma and even death. Experts also warn that lead poisoning, especially in children, can cause decreased bone and muscle growth, poor muscle coordination, damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and/or hearing.
Researchers say element mercury are toxic to the central and peripheral nervous systems and that ingestion and inhalation of mercury vapor can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal.
“We are not the only agency with the capacity to test the quality of goods. We don’t know who did the test of the sugar the Interior CS said contains mercury. We would appreciate if that information is given to us,” said Ongwae.