The Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) has been asked to check the sale of illegally imported milk powder following concerns that some contained dangerous adulterants.
The KDB recently raised concerns of contaminated milk powder in the market imported by unregistered suppliers which posed health hazards to consumers.
The Board had found out from market surveillance that some of the smuggled milk powder contained adulterants including melamine, heavy metal such as lead and radio active material, which spelt serious health consequences to unsuspecting consumers.
Pearl Dairy Ltd, the largest producer of powdered milk in East Africa has appealed to the KDB, the Department of Veterninary Services and all Quality Control organizations to step up efforts to rout out these illegal imports.
The CEO Atul Chaturvedi estimates that between 8-10 containers packed with tonnes of powder milk are smuggled into the country each month through Mombasa or Kenya’s porous border with Somalia. The milk is then packaged into smaller packs, branded and sold cheaply through retail outlets.
Chaturvedi said besides the health risks cited by the KDB, the government was losing millions in revenue as the smugglers evaded paying the relevant duties and taxes applicable.
The illegal trade was also posing unfair competition to companies doing genuine business. Legally imported powder milk from outside the East African Community or COMESA attracts duties of almost 89percent a fact which the CEO says leaves companies like his competitively disadvantaged in product pricing.
Chaturvedi says plans by his company to construct a Ksh. 80 million milk powder packaging plant in Kenya next year will largely depend on whether the market will have been stabilized from the illegal imports.
Pearl Dairy, a subsidiary of the Midcom Group, has its main production line in Uganda with a capacity for 500,000 litres per day and has established a presence in several countries in the region starting with Kenya.