It is one week since Kenya Bureau of Standards directed the removal of 10 brands of cooking oil and cooking fats from the shelves over standards, but the said brands remain in supermarkets in Uganda.
A mini-survey of Kampala shows at least three large supermarkets still had the brands well displayed.
“Some of these brands may be on the Ugandan market and consumers need to be notified to be alert of the risk they pause.
Authorities like Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) need to assure the public that such products have been identified and removed from market shelves,” said Samuel Wetasa, the Executive Director, Uganda Consumer Protection Association.
Wetasa has appealed to the public to look out for the mentioned brands on the Ugandan market and report through the toll-free line 0800133133. He says the companies are supposed to withdraw the said products not only in Kenya but across all markets in COMESA, the Common Market for East and Southern Africa, including Uganda, because the statement arose from a directive by the regional body’s trade regulatory agency.
“COMESA has a statutory committee called the COMESA Consumer Protection Committee. Once that committee issues a statement, that statement binds all COMESA member-states,” says Wetasa, who is also the Chairperson, COMESA Consumer Protection Committee.
COMESA has a regional alert and warning system, and when an agency like KEBS or UNBS issues a statement like that, an alert is sent that the goods are not probably hazardous but they are not fit for human consumption. “So when COMESA Consumer Protection Committee issues that statement on the basis of the statement arising from KEBS, it means that all statutory bodies in COMESA member-states ought to ensure that those products are not on the shelves,” says Wetasa.
He says all standards bodies in the COMESA region, including UNBS are supposed to ensure that the products are withdrawn from the shelves, without even waiting to test their standards.
Efforts to get a statement from the UNBS on what their regulatory response are still futile, with management saying they will issue a statement. The companies affected are Bidco Africa, Pwani Oil Products, Kapa Oil Refineries and Menengai Oil Refineries.
Bidco however has issued a statement assuring the public that all its products are safe for human consumption.
“As a manufacturer, we acknowledge the sacred mandate of KEBS in enforcing standards that safeguard the health of consumers and promote fair trade practices. We have been unwavering and relentless in pursuing our quality goals…” the statement by Bidco Africa Chairman, Vimal Shah partly reads.
KEBS has since updated their statement saying that not all the products under the named brands were to be recalled, but specific batches. The revised statement shows that Bidco should recall Bahari Fry batch number 107921 and Olive Gold batch 105948.
Pwani Oil’s suspended batches are Fresh Fri batch FF1L17487D, Fresh Fri with Garlic Oil batch number FF500175260, Fry Mate (8941D) and Salit (SS1L17472D).
On the other hand, Kapa Oil was directed to recall Postman batch 0210322B, Rina 0340522B and Tilly 152222A.
Menengai Oil has one batch of Top Fry number OL4A3 MF9.25.05.22 to be recalled.
“We wish to reassure the public that whatever else that is in the market from the respective brands is safe and there is no cause for alarm,” stated KEBS.