UNBS gets tough on product labelling language

Wednesday December 2 2015

By Henry Mulindwa


Products labelled in unfamiliar languages pose health risks to consumers, an official from Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has said.

While conducting an operation on substandard products to rid Nakawa market of substandard productsrecently, Mr Jameson Ssewanyana, a UNBS surveillance officer, said certain consumers cannot read, interpret and understand some languages. He said this poses a health risk, especially when a consumer is unable to tell whether the product is of quality or not because of language.

“Labelling goods in foreign languages is common with pre-packaged products yet the labelling of all pre-packaged products is governed by one Uganda standard,” he said.

Mr Ssewanyana said consuming products with labels in unfamiliar language can result in health risks because the consumer cannot identify basic information such as expiry dates, dangerous ingredients such as hydroquinone found in cosmetics, and any other additives that a consumer may be allergic too.
“Consumption of substandard products can cause body complications like skin rashes, stomach complications and cancer,” he added.

During the operation, products with labels in unfamiliar languages were seized from the traders.
They included baby powder, baby diapers, cooking oils, and electricals.


The legislation
Section 7.2 of the Standards Act states that the official language for labelling products shall be English and / or any other official language used in the East African partner states. Therefore, a product labelled in unfamiliar language is considered as substandard.

The Ugandan Constitution recognises English as the official language of the country.