Uncertified maize grain and maize flour are now being enforced by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).
Due to poor hygiene and working conditions that did not meet the requirements of the quality standards, approximately 40 mills in the Luweero and Jinja districts were forced to close.
Over the last year, the bureau has been educating and training maize millers, processors, and dealers in various sections of the country.
This was done to ensure that they met the quality standards for maize and maize flour by obtaining UNBS certification before putting them on the market.
The operators, according to the officials, must adhere to necessary criteria such as maize grain specification and the code of practice for cleanliness in the food and beverage manufacturing industry, among others.
Officials noted in a statement that the criteria are aimed at restoring export market confidence in Ugandan products, in addition to domestic consumption.
Before resuming operations, the owners of the closed facilities have been required to take corrective action, including seeking for UNBS accreditation.
Following reports of excessive levels of aflatoxins in maize grain, UNBS executive director David Livingstone Ebiru noted that enforcement of the maize grain and maize flour standards became required.
According to Ebiru, this has put customers’ health and safety at jeopardy on both the local and export markets.
So far, the bureau has approved 96 millers with 113 maize goods, including 95 permits for maize flour, 1 certificate for maize grit, 7 licences for fortified maize flour, and 10 permits for maize grain.
According to UNBS officials, there are also 208 other applications in various stages of the certification process, with the number projected to rise as the agency’s enforcement efforts ramp up.
Businesses must also ensure that the business premises, maize milling equipment, and stores are cleaned on a regular basis and that cleaning records are kept in accordance with Ugandan requirements.
To avoid contact with damp flooring and foreign matter such as stones, wood, and other particles, the guidelines also prohibit storing maize or maize flour directly on the floor.
Businesses that are found to have no evidence of internal and external product testing, record keeping, or maintenance face penalties, while manufacturing personnel must be fully equipped in Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and must undergo medical tests on a regular basis.