UGANDA – The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has issued a stern caution to dealers in Nsenene (edible grasshoppers), urging strict adherence to national standards governing edible insects.

The Uganda Standard (US 28 EAS 39:2002) for Edible Insects outlines guidelines for the production, preparation, and handling of these insects to ensure compliance with hygiene standards in the food and drink manufacturing industry.

The standard stipulates that the maximum content of aflatoxins in edible insects, determined according to the prescribed method, should not exceed five to 10 micrograms per kilogram, depending on the type of toxic substance.

UNBS has reemphasized the importance of adhering to these standards to avert potential health risks associated with consuming improperly handled insects.

Additional requirements include compliance with maximum heavy metal limits set by the CODEX Alimentarius Commission, an international body implementing food standards established by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The standard also mandates that edible insects adhere to pesticide residue and veterinary residue limits specified by the CODEX Alimentarius Commission for similar commodities.

Edible insects must meet criteria such as freedom from adulterants, unnecessary material, objectionable odor, as well as being free from infestation and contamination by pests.

UNBS underscores the importance of consumer vigilance and encourages reporting any suspicions of contamination through their toll-free numbers.

In March, UNBS, in collaboration with Makerere University School of Food Technology, Nutrition, and Bio-Systems Engineering, launched the Edible Insects Standard, US 2146:2020 Edible Insects – Specification.

The standard aims to promote the safe consumption of edible insects in Uganda, especially as the demand for Nsenene grows, including in export markets.

The reinforcement of standards comes amid concerns about adulteration, with reports suggesting the use of formalin as a preservative and insecticide spray to deter flies.

UNBS’s ongoing efforts seek to ensure that Nsenene and other edible insects meet the highest safety and quality standards for consumers in Uganda and beyond.

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