National, News

South Sudan detects Toxic import food at Nimule

By William Madouk

South Sudan’s National Bureau of Standards (SSNSB) has launched investigations into a 150-tonne consignment of maize flour from Uganda considered unfit for human consumption at Nimule.

Mary Gordon, the Executive Officer for SSNBS, confirmed that preliminary results showed that there is a high level of aflatoxin in the flour that causes cancer.

“This is exactly what happened; we have tested a lot of maize [flour] containers, and we find through measurement that there are some levels of aflatoxin higher than the normal limit,” Ms. Gordon said.

She revealed that officials from the Bureau have confiscated more than 40 trucks [containers] ferrying alleged toxic maize flour into South Sudan from Uganda awaiting a second test results to affirm its safety.

“We did a preliminary test, but now we want to do another lab test to give us the second test, so we can really affirm that those consignments are not fit for human consumption,” Ms. Gordon added,

“But for now, they have to wait,” she stressed, highlighting that the suspected toxic maize flour is projected to be more than 100 tons as more had trickled into the country.

“It’s estimated up to 150 tons, but this is only a fraction, 40 something, but 100 and something have already arrived in South Sudan,” Ms. Gordon noted.

When asked what the bureau will do with the flour once it is found toxic, she said the decision will be made by the government.

“We work in ranks and seniority; for instance, the Bureau of Standards was an institution under the executive; now we have parliament and higher authority from the president onward,” she explained.

“For us, we do our part and give them our results, and our mandate is covered; now everybody else has their own mandate, and the parliament has its final say because it concerns the public and consumers,” she continued.

In February 19, scientists at the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Kampala-based, revealed that Ugandan maize, sorghum, and groundnuts contain 10 times or higher concentrations of aflatoxin than the safety edge recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr. Godfrey Asea, National Crops Resources Research Institute, said Uganda’s maize poses a cancer risk to consumers due to the high concentration of aflatoxin.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aflatoxin is a fungal toxin that, when consumed in large amounts, can cause cancer, organ damage, and death.

Earlier, South Sudan’s National Bureau of Standards (SSNSB) appealed for support to strengthen its screening capacity to handle the maize from Uganda.

Meanwhile, the Community Empowerment for Progress organization also added its voice to the Bureau of Standards and called on the national parliament to urgently intervene on Ugandan toxic maize.

The executive director for CEPO, Edmund Yakani, said the Bureau of Standards has sounded the alarm bell, but the ball is now in the court of the executive and parliament.

The renowned activist Yakani called on South Sudan’s National Bureau of Standards to stand firm against corruption practices that might impact negatively on standard’ guidelines or principles.

He also urged the national parliament to engage seriously in order to put an end to corruption practices in the Bureau of Standards.

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