UNBS launches second regional food safety laboratory

Mr Mwebesa (L) inspect laboratory equipment that was launched in Mbale City yesterday. Photo | Ismail Musa Ladu 

What you need to know:

The regional laboratories are part of the larger plan to standardise quality as a way of attaining sustainable industrialisation 

Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has commissioned a second Food Safety Laboratory in Mbale City in a plan that seeks to decentralise quality infrastructure and other standardisation services.

The UNBS eastern region laboratory will majorly serve the sub regions of Karamoja, Sebei, Bukedi, Teso, Bugisu and Busoga. 

The first laboratory, which seeks to serve much of northern Uganda, was launched in Gulu City in July while another is expected to be launched in Mbarara City to serve western Uganda.  

Speaking at the launch in Mbale City yesterday, Mr Francis Mwebesa, the Minister of Trade, said standardising quality was critical in supporting government’s agenda to attain sustainable industrialisation that will support policies such as Buy Uganda Build Uganda, Imports Substitution and Export Promotion Strategies. 

Therefore, he said, the decentralisation of testing laboratories will also enhance accessibility to UNBS services as well as reduce the cost of doing business as well as improve the level of compliance to quality standards. 

The regional laboratories, in addition to providing conformity assessment and quality assurance of products, seek to reduce turnaround time for micro, small and medium enterprises, many of which have had to spend quality time to ensure that their goods are tested in UNBS labs in Kampala. 

Mr David Livingstone Ebiru, the UNBS executive director, said this is part of UNBS’ strategic plan to decentralise standardisation services as a way of enhancing competition among businesses that are involved in production, processing and value addition across the country. 

The laboratories are funded by the Danish Government through Trade Mark East Africa under an arrangement in which critical equipment worth $4.4m (Shs16.8b) has been availed. 

Mr Henrik Jespersen, the Deputy Danish Ambassador to Uganda, said the facility will significantly contribute to the safety and quality of products on the market, as well as support other government programmes such as agro-industrialisation, manufacturing and private sector development, which are critical to economic transformation.

UNBS has previously shown concern over the increasing rate of sub-standard products.   In 2018, UNBS indicated that at least 54 percent of products on the Ugandan market were not fit for human consumption. 

Mr John Ulanga, the Trademark East Africa senior director for the east and central region, said UNBS was a dependable and trusted partner in its bid to facilitate trade and investments. 

The regional laboratories will be testing a wide range of products, both food and non-food items such as edible fats and oils, milk and milk products, water, fruits and vegetables, cereals and cereal products, grains and animal products, among.

Testing services 

The regional laboratories will test a wide range of products - both food and non-food items - such as edible fats and oils, milk and milk products, water, fruits and vegetables, cereals and cereal products, grains and animal products, among others. 

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