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Misuse of Food Additives Dangerous to Human Health – UNBS

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards-UNBS has commenced the enforcement of standards on food additives.

The additives are substances that are not part of a food or beverage in its natural form but are substances added to preserve, flavor, or enhance taste, appearance, or other sensory qualities.

UNBS said it is starting with sensitizing the responsible users on how to apply the substances in the production processes, or how to identify them before importing or buying them from the producer.

Recently there have been reports of dangerous chemicals or substances which are added to meat and grasshoppers, with some claiming that the users are actually applying formalin, which is used to preserve (embalm) dead bodies.

UNBS Deputy Executive Director, Patricia Ejalu said as technology advances, manufacturers are becoming more innovative to compete in the market, and in the end, some undesirable practices are being applied.

This has necessitated some new developments in the standards to ensure the protection of the consumers and the preservation of the export markets.

Speaking at a meeting with the business community on Thursday, Ejalu said that while it is okay to be innovative, there have to be limitations in regard to what one is producing for the consumption of human beings.

She said that some additives are produced with different and positive intentions, but can be used either intentionally or unintentionally, for the wrong purpose, leading to disastrous effects.

Some traders sought to know why some people are penalized even when the substances approved for human consumption are found in their products.

However, Moses Matovu, a senior certification officer at UNBS, said each additive is approved for use in a certain product because the different products are made of different articles, which may not be safe to mix with certain additives.

He cited carbonated soft drinks which may not share the same additive with juices.

However, according to him, the main challenge with importers and manufacturers is that they do not focus much on labeling their products.

Matovu said labeling should be the first source of protection for the consumer, and that each pack should clearly indicate what type of additive it is.

The name, shelf life, any other additives or ingredients, storage, and name and address are some of the aspects the enforcers will be looking for on the package, according to Matovu.

Currently, the production and distribution of additives are regulated by the US45 2019 General Standard on Food Additives.

Rehma Meeme, the Senior Standards Officer at UNBS, says any additives released for use must be justified as to why it was produced, in other words, there must be a reason or an additional benefit it gives when the food or drink is used.

She added that different additives, even when approved for consumption, may affect some people differently, and therefore the producer must indicate what category of people may not consume it, or the amounts that should not be exceeded by the consumer.

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