During a meeting with the manufacturers under the Uganda Kombucha Manufacturers (KOMAU), the UNBS Deputy Executive Director Patricia Bageine Ejalu cautioned the over 90 manufacturers against failure to control their production processes which results into high levels of alcohol in the final products.
She also warned the manufacturers against making therapeutic claims on products certified as beverages, deceptive labelling and advertising.
“Anyone who wants to manufacture health drinks with therapeutic claims should seek assistance from the competent authority,” she said.
UNBS carried out market surveillance inspections at 65 beverage factories in Eastern, Western, Central and Northern Uganda between November 2021 and January 2022. Of these, non-conforming Kombuchas were found at 10 facilities and 12 factories were sealed off.
Ejalu also challenged the manufacturers to practice self-regulation which is cheaper and easier than waiting for the government regulation officers.
The sector leaders agreed to work together with UNBS to deliver quality products to the public, each side meeting its mandate.
“It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that the quality of our products is maintained at all stages of our value chain given the nature of the business we are in,” said KOMAU President, Sam Turyatunga.
According to the Kombucha Standards, Non-alcoholic products should not have alcoholic content above 0.5 percent, while alcoholic ones should have between 0.5 and 15 percent.
The standard also limits sugar content at 50 grams per litre, and lactic acid content between 4 and 15 grams per litre.
The manufacturers are also compelled to ensure that containers are labeled in compliance with the requirements of US EAS 38, and indicate the name of the product as “Non-alcoholic Kombucha” or “Alcoholic Kombucha”, the alcohol content, manufacturing and expiry dates and the list of ingredients.
The UNBS states that the acceptable Kombucha ingredients are coffee, tea or malt; sugar; yeast and bacterial culture and potable water complying with US EAS 12 standard.
Kombucha is a fermented, lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea drink commonly consumed for its purported health benefits. Sometimes the beverage is called kombucha tea to distinguish it from the culture of bacteria and yeast.
It is largely classified as a functional beverage, meaning that it is a non-alcoholic drink that contains vitamins, amino acids or other nutrients associated with health benefits.