UGANDA – Only four of 10 juice processors observe the basic recommended hygiene practices, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) executive director has revealed.
Speaking in an interview after an engagement with juice and beverage manufacturers last week in Kampala, Mr Ben Manyindo attributed the poor compliance levels to lack of regulation.
In the absence of proper regulation, Mr Manyindo said the juice sub-sector has been left exposed as evidenced by the mushrooming producers, most of whom do not care about standards and basic manufacturing practices.
“At the moment it is difficult to understand or even know how many juice manufacturers exist. This is because it is so easy for anybody to start making and packing juice in a bedroom or a garage without securing formal approvals,” Mr Manyindo said.
He continued: “Some makers of juice pack coloured water and claim it is natural juice as others use materials (Kaveera) that may not be the recommended ones, let alone working in a dirty environment. In our estimation, we believe that 60 per cent of the manufacturers are not compliant.”
Mr Manyindo said engaging the industry players is a step towards enforcement of the standards, which is long overdue. The enforcement, he said, is in an attempt to safeguard the health of the consumers who are already exposed to diseases such as the current typhoid outbreak in Kampala.
He said: “This meeting is to understand the challenges you are going through and how we can help you become compliant. After here, we are going to enforce compliance and we do not expect anybody to say he/she didn’t know this was coming.”
The UNBS manager in charge of quality assurance, Mr Martin Imalingat said industry players have failed to apply the necessary requirement despite the availability of such standards.
He said the standard rotates around manufacturing practices of production processes, an area where there is a blatant abuse, understanding the standard requirement you need, hygiene, labeling and packaging.
“You must understand what kind of additives, preservatives, sweetener or food colour to use. It must be clear to know if your product is an imitation drink or a natural one. And you must maintain the hygiene standards at all times or else you will be putting the health of consumers’ ay risk.”
Although more than 400 industry players such as juice processors, water manufacturers and makers of imitation drinks and beverages have been talked to about compliance and standards requirements, Mr Imalingat says slightly more than 100 have been certified.