Kenya reports another illegal sugar seizure

Another large seizure of counterfeit sugar has been reported in Kenya, suggesting illicit supplies are still in circulation in the market.

Almost 450 fifty-kilo bags of the illegal sugar were seized in Nairobi’s Kayole area by officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) last week, and five suspects taken into custody. The haul was discovered at a retail outlet described by police as Ventures Green Store.

The suspects – four men and one woman – were discovered repackaging sugar labelled as ‘not for sale’, reports the DCI.

Substandard or illegal sugar was the illicit good most commonly seized by Kenya’s Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) during a crackdown in 2018, and caused a massive food safety scandal after it emerged that at least some of the material was unfit for human consumption.

There were reports that some of the seized sacks bore fake stickers indicating they had been certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS).

Local media reports suggest that an influx of contraband sugar from neighbouring Somalia and Tanzania has skewed the market and made it difficult for state-owned sugar producers to remain financially viable.

The latest incident follows the theft of 5,000 bags of contaminated sugar suspected to contain mercury from a transport and logistics company in Mombasa. There have been seven arrests related to that incident but the stolen sugar has not been recovered.

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