The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) on Tuesday ordered three manufacturers it accused of selling poor quality face masks to discontinue manufacturing and recall its products from the market and institute corrective actions over what the regulator described as endangering the lives of Kenyans.
In a statement, KEBS listed Wandas General Supplies the manufacturer of the Wandas brand of facemasks, Arax Mills Ltd the manufacturer of Arax brand of masks and Hela Intimates EPZ Ltd as poor quality facemasks manufacturers and observed that the three firms will only be allowed to distribute face masks again in the Kenyan market when they meet standards set by the regulator.
“The manufacturers are required to recall all the substandard masks from the market and institute corrective actions whose effectiveness shall be confirmed by KEBS before the suspension of the standardization mark permits is lifted. Manufacturers are also advised to strictly adhere to marking and labeling requirements as per the relevant Standard,” the regulator said in the statement.
All three are firms based in Nairobi.
KEBS says that the crackdown follows countrywide surveillance on surgical facemasks which established that some “unscrupulous” manufacturers are not meeting the set standards.
“The use of substandard medical facemasks, or even misuse of the masks, is highly risky because it gives a
a false sense of protection thereby increasing the risk of exposure,” the statement read.
KEBS advised traders and Kenyans to verify the authenticity of any quality marks on the label product before purchasing face masks.
The regulator has also published standards that must be met while manufacturing facemasks.
Standard KS 2636: 2016 is meant to guide manufacturers on exactly what components constitute a professional face mask and how to stitch the components together.
For instance, part of the standard reads, “The mask shall be made from four layers of fabric.These layers
comprise an outer layer, filter layer, a unidirectional moisture layer, and an absorption layer, in that order,”
“All four layers shall be pleated horizontally with three pleats finished depth 15 mm and at the front of the mask the top pleat shall face upwards and the other two shall face downwards. The top edge of the mask shall be bound with tape to a depth of 15 mm, enclosing, on the front side, an aluminum strip and the top edge shall also be bound with a reinforcing strip to a depth of 20mm at the front of the mask and 10 mm at the back of the mask,” the standard reads.
The regulator has also developed Standard KS 2409-6:2018 which specifies the requirements for filtering half masks as respiratory protective devices to protect against particles except for escape purposes.
Although COVID-19 has come as a big blow to many businesses in the economy, the pandemic has also been an opportunity for some especially manufacturers& producers, distributors& retailers of health and sanitation products.
In May, KEBS also banned eight hand santizer brands over quality concerns as different sets of Kenyans capitalized on the opportunity to make a living. The result was that the market was flooded with fake products.
“The manufacturers are required to recall all the substandard sanitizers from the market and institute corrective actions whose effectiveness shall be confirmed by KEBS before the suspension of permits is lifted. KEBS shall then inform the public once the products have met the requirements of the Kenya Standards to ensure they are safe and of good quality,” the regulator said in a statement,