UGANDA – The Uganda National Bureau of Standards has closed over 167 sachet-filling machines from at least 37 alcohol-manufacturing companies as part of enforcing the government’s ban on alcohol sold in sachets.

The government through the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, issued a directive banning the sale of alcohol in sachets effective 1st June 2019 and instituted a multi-agency task force to enforce the ban.

This included the UNBS, Ministry of Health and National Environment Management Authority among other institutions which saw UNBS embark on the enforcement in Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, Jinja and Mityana.

The ban was instituted as a consumer protection measure to guard against excessive alcohol consumption and requires drinks manufacturers in the country to package liquor in bottles of not less than 200ml.

UNBS Executive Director, Dr. Ben Manyindo, said; “We are aware that by time we sealed off the machines some of the alcohol in sachets had already found its way on the market.

“Our market surveillance team will soon carry out inspections on wholesale and retail outlets that could still be selling sachets. We are committed to enforcing standards to protect the health and safety of consumers.”

As part of strengthening its efforts, the standards body has also issued consumer tips on how to identify quality alcohol especially on packaging which should include the details of the manufacturer, alcohol content, identification code, country of origin and any statutory warnings.   

The ban is part of the measures that Uganda is taking against alcohol abuse. According to the 2018 WHO Global Alcohol Status report, Uganda has the seventh highest rate of alcohol consumption in Africa.

UNBS is further positioned to ensure compliance following its recent accreditation by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) to offer International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) Management Systems Certification.

The standards body is now internationally recognised to provide certification services to organisations for Food Safety Management Systems (ISO 22000) and Quality Management Systems (ISO 9001).

“This accreditation will give Ugandan companies an opportunity to certify their organisational systems and processes at an affordable cost to demonstrate that their services meet international standards and therefore capable of meeting customer expectations,” Dr. Manyindo said.

UNBS has also launched the new systems certification mark.