Today the 7th of June 2021, Uganda through the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) joins the rest of the world to celebrate the World Food Safety day, under the theme; Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow.
On 20th December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 73/250 proclaiming a World Food Safety Day (WFSD). Starting in 2019, every 7th June is a time to celebrate the myriad benefits of safe food.
World Food Safety Day is an important way of: making the population aware of food safety issues; demonstrating how to prevent illness through food safety; discussing collaborative approaches to improved food safety across sectors; and promoting solutions and ways of having more food safe.
The consumption and production of safe food have immediate and long-term benefits for people, the planet and the economy. The availability of safe and healthy food for all can be sustained into the future by embracing digital innovations, advancing scientific solutions as well as honouring traditional knowledge that has stood the test of time.
While COVID-19 has not been transmitted by food, the pandemic has sharpened the focus on food safety-related issues, such as hygiene, antimicrobial resistance, zoonotic diseases, climate change, food fraud and the potential benefits of digitalizing food systems. It has also identified weaknesses or vulnerabilities in food production and control systems. The Government has been steadfast in minimizing disruptions in the food supply chains, as consumers must have reliable access to safe food.
Food supply chains involve several people: producers, processors, transporters, distributors, retailers, cooks as well as consumers. At every point in the chain, there are hazards that can cause contamination. Everyone involved at the various stages has a responsibility to keep food safe.
There are five calls to action on World Food Safety Day:
- Ensure it’s safe – The Government has the responsibility to ensure safe and nutritious food for all.
- Grow it safe – Agriculture and food producers are required to adopt good practices.
- Keep it safe – Business operators have a responsibility to ensure that the food they produce is safe.
- Know what’s safe – Consumers across board need to learn about safe and healthy food.
- Team up for food safety – Let’s work together for safe food and good health
Food Safety is generally structured along five main elements including food law and legislation, food control management, inspection services, laboratory services and information, education, communication and training. UNBS services and activities contribute significantly to four elements and hence at the centre stage in fostering food safety in Uganda
Over 1040 Uganda Standards have been developed that provide requirements for ensuring quality and safe food. The standards are applied in Certification services in which industries are assessed on their level of compliance. Considering that Uganda remains a net importer, the available Uganda standards for food products have been key in our Imports Inspection programmes hence ensuring that products available for consumption in the market are safe. In addition, the market surveillance activities which are undertaken country wide are important to maintaining sanity.
With the state of the art ISO 17025 food safety laboratories at UNBS, there has been added value in terms of protection of consumers from unsanitary and unwholesome food and contribution to economic development by maintaining consumer confidence in the food system and providing a sound regulatory foundation for domestic and international trade in food. Effective Testing services are critical enablers in the facilitation of trade and ultimately boosts quick access of locally produced goods and services by the several MSMEs to national, regional and international markets.
UNBS during this period has heightened awareness and promotion events focusing on selected food commodity value chains specifically campaigns for the maize value chain in Districts of Luwero, Mubende, Kiboga, Hoima, Busia, Kapchorwa, Iganga, Masindi, Kiryandongo and Kasese focusing on good post-harvest handling practices in order to contribute to the management of Aflatoxins in Grains.