The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has urged all dealers of edible insects to obtain certification to ensure the safety of their products for public consumption.
Sylvia Kirabo, Principal Public Relations Officer at UNBS, emphasised that this requirement aligns with their mandate to develop, promote, and enforce standards that protect public health, safety, and the environment against dangerous and sub-standard products.
In collaboration with Makerere University School of Food Technology, Nutrition, and Bio-Systems Engineering (Food Science), and with support from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), UNBS launched the Edible Insects Standard, US 2146:2020 Edible Insects – Specification in March 2022.
The aim is to facilitate the commercialisation of edible insects in Uganda.
This standard promotes the safe consumption of edible insects, which are harvested, processed, and traded in the Ugandan market.
Quality assurance measures within the standard involve the analysis of unwanted biological and chemical substances that may contaminate the insects during harvesting, processing, packaging, or transportation.
Kirabo urged Public Health Inspectors to remain vigilant and ensure that edible insect traders adhere to proper practices during harvesting, processing, packaging, and transportation to prevent contamination.
"The standard, US 2146:2020 edible insects specification, specifies the requirements, sampling, and test methods for edible insects, including grasshoppers (Nsenene), white ants, termites, crickets, among others," she explained.
Some of the standard requirements state that edible insects, whether whole, granulated, powdered, or pasted, and whether fried or dried, should be free from adulterants, extraneous material, objectionable odor, infestation, and contamination from pests.
They should also comply with the maximum pesticide residue and veterinary residue limits established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission for similar commodities.
Additionally, they should not contain hazardous amounts of heavy metal contaminants.
Kirabo highlighted other requirements, such as the maximum content of aflatoxins in edible insects, the hygienic production and handling of insects according to relevant sections of US EAS 39, and packaging in food-grade containers to preserve the hygienic, nutritional, and organoleptic qualities of the product.
Each package of edible insects should be clearly and permanently labeled with the product's name ("Edible insects") and the common/scientific/local name of the insect, brand/trade name, manufacturer's name and address, storage conditions, expiry date, and other relevant information.
"UNBS also urges consumers to be vigilant when purchasing edible insects and report any suspected substandard products or questionable practices related to the harvesting, processing, packaging, and transportation of edible insects," she added.
Kirabo emphasized that UNBS remains committed to fulfilling its mandate of ensuring consumer protection and fair trade in Uganda