UGANDA – The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has issued new quality standards in a move to monitor the quality of maize grain and maize meal exports to ensure conformity to standards.
According to the standards agency, every maize grain and maize meal exporter is advised to obtain copies of key maize Standards and comply with the specified requirements, which, the agency believes will reduce the possibility of poor-quality products being rejected by export markets.
The new standards include US EAS 2:2017, Maize grains — Specification (3rd Edition), US EAS 44:2019, Milled maize (corn) products — Specification (4th Edition), and US EAS 38:2014, and the Labelling of pre-packaged foods – General requirements.
These efforts come after the recent showdown by the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards (SSNBS) that impounded Ugandan trucks loaded with maize grains, maize flour, and wheat on allegations of failing to pass the test for contamination with aflatoxin.
However, later, UNBS announced that the contested consignments had passed aflatoxin tests after they were tested according to the East African Community standards agreed upon by all member states, including South Sudan.
In addition, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) announced in a statement that it has increased efforts to monitor the quality of maize grain and flour exports to ensure standard compliance.
Among the requirements that exporters must fulfill include identifying a yard that is motorable, secure, dust and mud-free to be the assembling point for the trucks to be sampled, in addition, exporters should provide sealable trucks for safe custody of the sampled products.
According to the agency, after successful tests, trucks whose results are found to comply with the standard shall be released to proceed to the border under the UNBS seal.
Meanwhile, those trucks whose results will be found non-compliant shall be retained for further management in line with the agreed procedures of handling non-conforming products.
“Every exporter has been asked to have his/ her product packaging clearly and indelibly labeled and traceable with the Name of Product, Name, and Address of the Manufacturer/Packer, Brand Name and/or Registered Trade Mark, Batch, Net Weight in SI units, Storage Instructions, the statement “food for human consumption”, Country of Origin, Date of Manufacture, Expiry Date and instructions for disposal of the used package (Ref: US EAS 2 and US EAS 44 and US EAS 38),” read the statement.
The move comes as a relief to Uganda grain millers and transporters who had earlier threatened to drag the two governments Uganda and South Sudan to the East African Court of Justice if their maize flour is destroyed on grounds of being contaminated by aflatoxins.
According to them, it is the responsibility of UNBS to safeguard their business by not allowing contaminated maize and meal into the market.