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It Is Now Or Never: UNBS Commences Enforcement Of Quality Standards Against Uncertified Maize Grain And Maize Flour

Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has been sensitizing and building capacity of maize millers, processors and dealers in different parts of the country over the last one year to ensure that the businessmen adhere to the maize and Maize flour quality standards by obtaining UNBS Certification (Q-Mark) before placing them on the market.

According to UNBS, the businessmen must comply with mandatory standards such as; US EAS 2:2017, Maize grains — Specification (2nd Edition), US EAS 44:2019, Milled maize (corn) products — Specification (4th Edition), US EAS 782:2019 Composite flour – Specification, US EAS 768:2019 Fortified milled maize (corn) products – Specification and US 28 EAS 39:2002 Code of practice for hygiene in the food and drink manufacturing industry.

 “All maize millers, processors and dealers are advised to adhere to the above requirements of the Standards to ensure safe Maize Grain and Maize Flour on the market,” says the national standards agency.

Furthermore, those dealing in the processing of maize are required to:

Ensure that the business premises, the maize milling equipment and stores are regularly cleaned and the cleaning records are well kept, as required by the Uganda standards.

Ensure that there is no foreign matter like stones, wooden particles, hair or nails in the flour and avail magnets to get rid of metal that could have contaminated the maize flour during the milling process.

Avoid storing maize or maize flour directly on the floor. Store it on pallets to avoid contact with damp floors that could lead to Moulds and Aflatoxin contamination of maize and maize flour;

Avoid using unacceptable pest control methods like spraying with pesticides and insecticides which contaminates the maize flour. Cats too leave fur behind, which contaminates the flour so they should be avoided. Make use of traditional rat traps and acceptable pest control methods that do not contaminate the flour in the stores.

Have evidence of internal and external product testing, record keeping and maintenance.

Ensure workers are fully dressed in Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) during the production process. The workers should be availed with changing rooms, good quality restrooms that are cleaned regularly and cleaning records well-kept as well as necessary training required for quality work, as required by the standards.

Regular medical check-ups of the workers MUST be done and health records kept as required by the standards.

Ensure proper packaging and labelling of finished products. Product Labels should have the brand name, date of manufacture, Expiry date/ sell by date, Name of manufacturer, Address of manufacturer, storage instructions, Instructions for use, size and net weight of the products.

Avoid packing maize and maize flour in packaging that is not yours. Deceptive labelling is an offence, punishable by law.

Ensure that the facility has a valid UNBS certification status.

After expiry of the notice period to the maize millers, processors and dealers, the Bureau has commenced nationwide enforcements of compliance to the above Standards in the Central and Eastern Regions of Country. This has resulted in a number of Maize Mills being sealed off, including 25 in  Luweero District and 24  maize mills  in Jinja District due  to poor hygiene and working conditions contrary to the requirements of the Quality Standards. The owners of these facilities have been asked to take corrective action, including applying for UNBS certification before they can be allowed to resume their operations.

According to the UNBS Executive Director David Livingstone Ebiru, the enforcements of the Maize Grain and Maize Flour Standards became necessary following reported incidences of high levels of aflatoxins in Maize Grain which was putting the Health and Safety of consumers at risk both on the domestic and exports markets.

The Bureau has so far certified a total of 96 Millers with 113 maize products comprising  95 permits for maize flour, one for maize grit, seven fortified maize flour and 10 for maize grain. There are also 208 other Applications at different stages of the certification process. This number, according to Ebiru is expected to increase further as UNBS intensifies its enforcement operations.

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