This is after the National Drug Authority (NDA) Executive Director, Dr David Nahamya presented to the committee findings of test samples on some carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks to ascertain caffeine and adulteration levels.
Along with the findings, four of the non-alcoholic drinks sampled in the market contained alcohol including Kituzi (1.1%), Power bank (4.4%), Sabarara extra (10.3%) and Entare sana (6%).
“It is very dangerous to take a non-alcoholic drink thinking it doesn’t contain alcohol whereas it does. Imagine, our children, pregnant mothers, pastors, Muslims and other non-alcoholic persons have been consuming these products,” Mwine Mpaka, Chairperson of the committee, said.
Similarly, some alcoholic kombuchas like Kabody coffee had 20% alcohol levels which exceeds the recommended 15 % for alcoholic kombuchas.
Some other 23 products including; Mukama Nayamba, Power play, Akaboozi, Kabody coffee were found to contain medicinal properties that reportedly enhance sexual potency and improve appetite.
According to the report, all the 23 energy drinks samples tested complied with the functional caffeine limit of 320mg/kg in the carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks standard, while 17 kombucha drink products showed presence of caffeine.
Mpaka has given the regulatory body seven days to take punitive action on the companies making the drinks and report back to the committee on the progress, according to The Independent.
“I am directing that UNBS within the next seven days withdraws the distinctive mark on all the mentioned products and report to the committee. The regulator should also conduct a market survey of all the products within two months and also use the media to sensitize the public about these products,” he said.
He also cautioned UNBS against certifying companies that produce products with medicinal and pharmaceutical purposes, saying it is only the mandate of NDA to do so.
Igara West’s Representative, Gaffa Mbwatekamwa, explored the option of suing the responsible agencies for allowing these companies to continue producing products that are potentially harmful to the health of the consumers.
“So we have been consuming soft drinks yet they contain alcohol? Whom do I sue for this? It is now clear that we need to test all these drinks on the market. We cannot accept Ugandans to die because they are being misled to consume what they are not supposed to,” he said.
Michael Timuzigu, Kajara County representative blamed UNBS for ‘sleeping’ on the job and allowing these companies to continue producing products that could be harmful to the consumers.
However, the UNBS Deputy Executive Director Patricia Ejalu informed that they have already swung into action and suspended the production of some of the products in question.
“With reference to products mentioned and in particular kituzi, kabody, sabarara, power bank and akabozi, the first stage of suspension has already been done so they are not producing any more since January. But we are going to assess all kombucha products that are under certification to ensure that they are meeting the standards,” she said.