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Uganda requests release of trucks impounded with toxic food

By William Madouk

Uganda government has appealed to South Sudan authority to allow drivers and impounded trucks carrying toxic maize flour to return back for other errands.

South Sudan National Bureau of Standards two weeks ago, confiscated over 40 trucks carrying maize flour deemed unfit for human consumption, awaiting second test results for confirmation.

South Sudan Bureau of Standards (SSNBS) Executive Officer, Mary Gordon had earlier offered preliminary results showing high level of aflatoxin substance in the flour, saying it could cause cancer.

She highlighted that the toxic flour, anticipated to be 150 tons, in around 40 containers were detained by officers at Nimule’s one-stop border post.

The permanent secretary at Uganda’s Ministry of East African Community Affairs, Mr. Edith N. Mwanje was then prompted to write to his counterpart in Juba, Mr. Andrea Aguer Ariik, the undersecretary in EAC affairs ministry docket.

Mr. Mwanje said they have learnt that maize flour had failed to pass rapid tests conducted at the Nimule border and that no date was set for confirmatory results of samples taken for further investigation.

“It is now two weeks since the first consignment was impounded and this is fueling a strike by the affected parties at Elegu – Nimule border,” he said in a document seen by this outlet.

In the letter dated June 5, 2023, Mr. Mwanje suggested three points to address the matter; one is for the Bureau of Standards to use Gulu facility that was provided by TradeMark Africa (TMA) to run their tests.

“All the truck drivers to offload the maize flour in a particular designated area and South Sudan Bureau of Standards continues with their investigation into the quality of the maize flour,” he added.

Mwanje’s third option is that South Sudan Bureau of Standards releases both the trucks and drivers to go back to Uganda for other businesses.

Efforts to get a comment on the awaited confirmatory results from Ms. Mary Gordon, the CEO for the South Sudan Bureau of Standards was futile, as her known number was off during press time.

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 the consumer due to the high concentration of aflatoxin.

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

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