The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has kicked off enforcement of quality standards against uncertified maize grain and maize flour.
The enforcement led to the closure of over 40 mills in Luweero and Jinja district due to poor hygiene and working conditions contrary to the requirements of the quality standards.
The bureau has been sensitising and building capacity of maize millers, processors and dealers in different parts of the country over the last one year.
This was aimed at ensuring that they adhere to the maize and maize flour quality standards by obtaining UNBS certification before placing them on the market.
According to the officials, the operators must comply with the mandatory standards that include maize grain specification,code of practice for hygiene in the food and drink manufacturing industry among others.
Apart from local consumption, officials explained in a statement that the standards are aimed at restoring the confidence of the export market in Ugandan products.
The owners of the closed facilities have been asked to take corrective action, including applying for UNBS certification before they can be allowed to resume their operations.
The UNBS executive director, David Livingstone Ebiru said that the enforcements of the maize grain and maize flour standards became necessary following reported incidences of high levels of aflatoxins in maize grain.
Ebiru said that this has put the health and safety of consumers at risk both on the domestic and exports markets.
The bureau has so far certified a total of 96 millers with 113 maize products comprising 95 permits for maize flour, 1 for maize grit, 7 fortified maize flour and 10 for Maize Grain.
There are also 208 other applications at different stages of the certification process and this number is expected to increase further as UNBS intensifies its enforcement operations, according to the officials.
Businesses are also expected to ensure that the business premises, the maize milling equipment and stores are regularly cleaned and the cleaning records are well kept, as required by the Uganda standards.
The standards also prohibit storing maize or maize flour directly on the floor, to avoid contact with damp floors, and to prevent foreign matter like stones, wood and other particles.
Businesses face penalties if they are found with no evidence of internal and external product testing, record keeping and maintenance, while factory workers must be fully dressed in Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), and regularly undergo medical checks.