KAMPALA: The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has been awarded by the USAID-Advancing Nutrition program Uganda, for its outstanding contribution in advancing nutrition and promoting large-scale food fortification in the country. This was during an event organised by USAID in Kampala, themed; ‘Dissemination of Learning in the Reduction of Micronutrient Deficiencies through Large-Scale Food Fortification.’
Food fortification refers to the adding of vitamins and minerals to food items regularly consumed by the public, to improve the nutritional quality of food and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health. In Uganda, the move is aimed at fighting malnutrition and deficiencies like Spina bifida and Anaemia by fortifying foods to enrich them with Vitamin A, Iron, Zinc and folic.
Food fortification was first implemented in Uganda in 2005, and In 2011, the Government of Uganda made food fortification mandatory for Edible salt (Iodine), Edible Oils and Fats (Vitamin A), and Wheat Flour (Premix of vitamins and minerals) as per the Food and Drugs (food fortification) (Amendment) Regulations, 2011 SI. No.53. Fortification for maize flour is still fixed to those producing 20 mt per day and above.
Much as the Food Fortification Regulation 2005 and Amendment 2011 is housed under the Ministry of Health, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is responsible for formulating, monitoring and enforcing national standards related to food fortification in Uganda to ensure compliance with the regulation.
While presenting the award, the Chief Guest, Dr. Henry Mwebesa, from Ministry of Health commended UNBS for its dedication and commitment to improving the nutritional status of the nation, ultimately leading to better health outcomes for Ugandans.
UNBS has developed standards to support food fortification among manufacturers and importers, some of which include;
US EAS 769:2019 Fortified Edible Oils and Fats – Specification US EAS 767:2019 Fortified wheat flour – Specification
US EAS 1024:2021 Fortified composite flour – Specification
US EAS 768:2019 Fortified Milled Maize (Corn) Products – Specification US EAS 35:2021 Fortified edible salt – Specification
US 2245: 2021 US 2245:2021, Safety of foodstuffs –Requirements US EAS 770:2012 Fortified Sugar – Specification
So far, over 83 product brands of fortified foods produced by over 37 companies are certified by UNBS and bear valid certification permits as at Wednesday, August 2, 2023. The list of these products is available on the UNBS website via https://unbs.go.ug/e-services/certified-products/
More applications for certification of fortified products have been received and the process of certification is ongoing.
Large scale food fortification has been identified as a crucial strategy in addressing micronutrient deficiencies. By fortifying commonly consumed food products with essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, folic acid, and iodine, UNBS, with support from USAID-Advancing Nutrition Uganda, aims at enhancing the nutritional value of these products to bridge the gap in micronutrient intake among Ugandans.