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Kenya announces tough measures for ethanol manufacturers and importers to curb its misuse

The national standardization body has introduced stringent measures for ethanol manufacturers and importers to prevent its misuse as part of efforts to combat illegal alcohol production.

In a public notice issued on Tuesday, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) instructed all ethanol manufacturers to ensure that ethanol intended for industrial purposes undergoes an additional industrial process to deter its misuse.

The agency stipulated that henceforth, manufacturers of ethanol intended for industrial use must denature it before releasing it from their premises.

Denaturation involves adding specific chemicals to ethanol to make it unpalatable and therefore unsuitable for consumption.

These denaturants are incorporated into products to prevent accidental ingestion, especially by children.

Kebs stated that this directive was issued in response to the government’s directive on March 6, 2024, aimed at eliminating illicit alcohol production, drug abuse, and substance misuse.

“All locally produced ethanol and ethanol imported into Kenya for industrial use must be denatured using Denatonium benzoate as a denaturant to prevent misuse,” Kebs stated in the notice.

Denatonium benzoate is employed to impart a foul odor to ethanol, dissuading criminals from using the substance in illicit alcohol production, as it would be unpalatable to consumers.

On Tuesday, Kebs further declared that ethanol manufacturers must provide evidence of denaturation before ethanol destined for industrial use is released from their facilities.

This requirement will apply to both domestically produced ethanol and imports at the country’s entry points.

These measures come in the wake of Interior and National Administration Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki’s directive for Kebs to ensure ethanol is denatured within 45 days.

The Cabinet Secretary instructed that ethanol be labeled with denatonium benzoate to prevent diversion or accidental use in alcohol production.

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