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UNBS tasks nsenene dealers to observe edible insects standards

Nsenene in a saucepan

Nsenene in a saucepan

The Uganda Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has cautioned nsenene (edible grasshoppers) dealers to abide by the set national standards on edible insects, to protect the health of their consumers.

The Uganda Standard (US 28 EAS 39:2002) for Edible Insects compels handlers to produce, prepare, and handle them in accordance with the code of practice for hygiene in the food and drink manufacturing industry. 

The standard requires that the maximum content of aflatoxins in edible insects when determined in accordance with the method described in US ISO 16050, shall not exceed five to 10 micrograms per kilogram depending on the type of the toxic substance. A microgram is equivalent to a millionth of a gram. However, UNBS has reissued warnings about possible health effects that may arise from consuming improperly handled insects, especially if the standards are not observed.

The standard also requires that edible insects comply with the maximum heavy metal limits established by the CODEX Alimentarius Commission for similar commodities. The CODEX Alimentarius Commission is a specialized body implementing food standards set by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation.

The edible insects must be free from adulterants, unnecessary material, and objectionable odour, as well as free from infestation and contamination from pests. While it is nearly impossible for an ordinary consumer to detect the presence of aflatoxins, UNBS says any suspicion of contamination should be reported through their toll-free numbers. 

In March, the UNBS launched the Edible Insects Standard, US 2146:2020 Edible Insects Specification, in collaboration with Makerere University School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-Systems Engineering (Food Science) with support from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). 

UNBS says the standard is aimed at promoting safe consumption of edible insects which are harvested, processed, and traded for consumption in Uganda. They also came at a time when nsenene was gaining demand in the export market, especially by Ugandans in the diaspora. 

In recent times, there have been concerns about adulteration, with some claiming the use of formalin, a preservative for dead bodies. Others reportedly use insecticide spray to keep flies away from highly perishable products.


+2 #1 kabayekka 2023-11-16 18:11
This is an organization that has been in the news, Parliament and the courts of law about its inefficiency in doing its work.

The African people have been eating such exotic meals for decades even when UNBS was not around yet! Basic traditional health guide lines are there without wasting billions of tax payers money to commit international health standards as priority!
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0 #2 Yonos 2023-11-16 20:28
Last season there were cases of severe diarrhea from those who ate nsenene as a result of dealers using a certain unknown chemical to make a big catch.

After confirming the news,I will never eat nsenene again.
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+1 #3 Webz 2023-11-16 23:19
Commercialising the ensenene is the cause of the food poisoning in the business.

Hopper vendors use all means to catch the insects - to the extent of using formalin, a dead body preserving chemical. I suggest that commercialisation of grasshoppers be banned by government.

Village dwellers no longer have a chance of catching these insects by themselves because sharp electronic lamps in towns and busy trading centres lure all the nsenene away.
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+1 #4 Lysol 2023-11-16 23:37
Entomophagy, or eating insects has been a source of protein and other nutrients for some human for thousands of years.

Those who are faint-hearted like Museveni and those who are allergic to insects may get skin rashes or diarrhea, like that Yonos, among others complications.

What is the nonsense, with the UNBS to do with eating insects? That is the job of the Ministry of Agriculture or Health.
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