The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has suspended permits to use the KEBS marks of quality on their products for 369 water bottling firms which have violated the water standards.
Some of these violations include companies operating without valid permits from KEBS, noncompliance to requirements of the relevant water standards such as the code of hygiene, using suspect sources of water, poor and misleading labelling.
KEBS permits have been suspended in accordance with the Standards Act CAP 496 of the Laws of Kenya and KEBS scheme of supervision and control. The suspension comes in the wake of complaints from consumers on the quality of bottled water which has been in the market.
Speaking during a meeting attended by a number of water manufacturing firms in Kenya, KEBS Managing Director, Charles Ongwae, said there has been an upsurge of unscrupulous water bottling firms which are not adhering to the laid down standards and procedures.
The KEBS Managing Director informed the suspended permit holders that KEBS is committed to work with them to achieve the required standards as a condition to recertification.
Mr. Ongwae, said water being a high risk product, there is an urgent need to ensure compliance to all regulations by the bottlers. The sector has been infiltrated by fraudulent players who are bottling substandard water and selling it to unsuspecting consumers. “Water is listed as a high risk commodity and a slight contamination can lead to sickness or even loss of life“, added Ongwae.
The water bottling business is guided by the Kenya Standards/East Africa standards for bottled water whereby the water classification is determined by the source of the water and the method of purification.
Some of the challenges stated to be facing the water bottling industry are that some of the manufacturers install filtration systems without seeking information on the requirements set out in standards that include Quality of the source water, Specifications for water, Code of hygiene, operating companies relocating and not informing KEBS of the new location.
Other challenges include Lack of willingness to renew the permits on time, Manufacturers using similar brand names without registering with KIPI, Manufacturer’s not identifying known suppliers of water treatment equipment hence purchasing equipment that are not efficient for water treatment and manufacturers making labels with Standardization mark that have not been issued to them by KEBS.
Article by Vera Shawiza.