Wakiso — Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Kampala Butchers and Traders Association (KABUTA) to improve the quality of meat products and ensure compliance to food safety standards.
"We want to make sure that the Ugandan consumers of meat and meat products are guaranteed safe and quality meat. That consumer angle is very critical as far as UNBS is concerned, the second one is to let this industry grow by going into value addition because that is where the money is," UNBS executive director Ben Manyindo said on Tuesday at the agency headquarters in Bweyogerere.
Under the MoU, UNBS will empower KABUTA members to ensure meat, its products and weighing scales used meet standards. UNBS will give KABUTA members a sticker as a sign of certification. KABUTA will ensure compliance to standards.
Meat and its products make up an important part of most meals served in Ugandan homes.
Traditional meat value chains starts at the farm gate, to the abattoir and ends up in a butchery. Mr Musa Ssenabulya, the chairperson of KABUTA said it is paramount that quality assurance at all those stages is met so that meat products are uncompromised.
The meat market lies in local butcheries, high end markets such as supermarkets, hotels and the export market.
However, Uganda has faced challenges in accessing international markets due to poor quality of meat and its products.
At the local level, Uganda has more than 1,400 butcheries that absorb meat from more than 1500 animals slaughtered on a daily basis.
The butcheries are yet to meet required standards.
"When you go around the outskirts of Kampala, you find butcheries built near sewage channels, some lack toilets, the butchers are unkempt so the whole public health requirement is lacking," KABUTA general secretary Edirisa Sekiteleko said, "In the past, we could know that somebody is cheating consumers, we could be able to understand that this person is selling stolen meat and there is no way it is inspected, these are the things we want to curb."
Dr Manyindo said consumers more than ever need to be cautious whenever they approach local butchers.
"One thing you should look at is, is this meat inspected, does it have a stamp because all meat is supposed to be inspected and there must be proof. Also, the more the meat stays, it develops some issues so look for fresh meat," he said.
Hidden killer in meat
Recently, stories about Formalin, a harmful drug used in local butcheries to preserve meat, have made rounds on social media. Mr Ssenabulya asked consumers to be on the lookout.
"We have done research and found out butchers are not using Formalin as reported but are using Tsunami, a drug which is very harmful to people's health and we have cautioned the culprits," Mr Ssenabulya said.