Increasing consumption of meat and meat products among households has created more demand for standards and quality products in the meat value chain.
Speaking at the National Stakeholders Meeting for players in the meat value chain, as part of the celebrations to mark the World Food Safety Day, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards, Deputy Executive Director in charge of Compliance, John Paul Musimami, said the meat industry is still faced with poor infrastructure in addition to poor practices that do not conform to standards.
Recently, the meat industry in Uganda faced a number of challenges including the alleged use of agrochemicals to preserve meat and insecticides to chase away flies as well as listeria outbreak linked to pre-packaged and ready-to-eat meat products imported from South Africa.
Musimami called on stakeholders in the meat value chain to improve their operations to safeguard the population from risks associated with consumption of unsafe meat and meat products.
While the consumption of beef is growing, the annual per capita consumption is still below the internationally recommend level.
It is estimated that the annual per capita consumption of beef in Uganda is 6kg which is below the 50kg recommended by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
Musimami added that working together with sector players, UNBS has developed standards for different meat products and codes of practices to guide operations at various stages of the meat value chain.
“In the development of standards, UNBS always strives to engage all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the resultant standards are applicable to the nation,” he said.
UNBS has also signed memoranda of understanding with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and Kampala Butchers and Traders Association (KABUTA) to enhance cooperation and effective use of the available resources to improve the hygiene and safety in the meat value chain.
As part of implementing the MoUs, UNBS has carried out joint sensitisation and enforcement of standards in the sector with noted improvement in the hygienic state of butcheries in the city.
The Former Chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Awilo Ochieng Parnet, commended UNBS for its work in ensuring compliance to food safety standards and called on sector players to ensure compliance to standards.
“Food safety must be on the political agenda because unsafe food results in negative, social, economic & development consequences. It shouldn’t be a discussion in air conditioned rooms but be discussed at grassroots to decision and policy makers,” she said.