UGANDA – In a high-level East African Community (EAC) regional meeting, policy and decision-makers have come together under the auspices of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to chart a new course for food safety and Codex activities in the region.
The gathering resolved to implement eleven decisive actions, marking a significant stride towards intensifying food safety measures throughout the EAC.
It saw the adoption of crucial measures aimed at enhancing food safety and Codex standards across the EAC region.
These initiatives include bolstering engagement in international standard-setting bodies, investing in food safety and Codex capabilities, strengthening foodborne disease surveillance, promoting innovative research in food safety, and enforcing rigorous regulatory mechanisms.
During the meeting, Uganda’s Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, emphasized the vital need for harmonized regulatory mechanisms.
This unified approach, she stressed, is essential to ensure the safety of food for consumers and facilitate seamless trade within the EAC region.
Hon. Francis Mwebesa, the Minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to investing in quality standards and infrastructure, including advanced food safety laboratories, underlining Uganda’s dedication to providing safe food for its citizens and exports.
While progress has been made, challenges remain, notably in addressing Aflatoxin levels. Ms. Stella Apolot, Principal Standards Officer of the East African Community Secretariat, highlighted this issue as a significant concern.
Aflatoxins, naturally occurring toxins produced by certain fungi, pose a threat to food safety. Efforts to find lasting solutions to combat Aflatoxin contamination were a central focus of discussions, emphasizing the necessity for innovative strategies.
Harmonization fuels trade
Meanwhile, in a recent meeting between UNBS and the EAC Secretariat, collaborative efforts were acknowledged for their role in facilitating regional trade.
Harmonization of standards emerged as a cornerstone, reducing trade barriers and enhancing the efficiency of goods movement.
Ms. Annette Mutaawe Ssemuwemba, Deputy Secretary General of the EAC Secretariat, highlighted advancements such as one-stop border posts and regional cargo tracking systems, which have significantly reduced transit times and streamlined trade processes.
As the EAC intensifies its efforts to fortify food safety standards, the collaborative spirit among member states, spearheaded by organizations like UNBS, promises a safer future for consumers and a thriving environment for trade and economic development.