National, News

South Sudan Bureau saves citizens of ‘Toxic’ maize

By William Madouk

East African Community (EAC) experts in their laboratory retests have confirmed the presence of high aflatoxin on the maize that South Sudan National Bureau of Standards (SSNBS) rejected.

Many lives could have been at risk of getting exposed to cancer should the cancer-causing Ugandan maize enter the country, but thanks to the Bureau of Standards.

The impounding of 62 trucks carrying questionable grains on May 15 by South Sudan caused an uproar among traders and the Uganda Bureau of Standards, which became the straw that broke the camel’s back. But little did they know the products were substandard.

Truckers threatened to stop supplying the country with goods and challenged the exercise of sampling, testing, and dissemination of confirmatory results, adding that none of them had seen the purported results.

But unfazed SSNBS downplayed the threat of truckers’ protest and said that the final decision for South Sudan’s authority was to destroy toxic maize flour.

“When something comes to your territory, you are not happy with it, and you have proof that it is contaminated. You have the right to make a decision,” said the CEO of SSNBS Mary Gordon.

“So, our decision as a government is that we are going to destroy it. It is going to be dumped, this is the decision of the law of standards,” she ruled.

Also, the Bureau of Standards cleared doubts over testing, saying they followed a sampling procedure that is scientifically acceptable worldwide.

After a month, NTV Uganda media reported that the trucks headed to the Elegu border for further verification by representatives of the two countries in the presence of the East African Committee.

However, for Ms. Mary Gordon the notion is different, she revealed to this outlet that the unfit grain was expelled because it was already condemned after consignments failed to pass several rapid tests conducted at the Nimule border.

“The unfit trucks of maize were not released for Ugandans to check; they were returned back to Uganda forever. South Sudanese won’t consume them” she said.

EAC standards results

On Saturday, a fresh laboratory retest carried out by the EAC experts confirmed the presence of the cancer-causing chemical Aflatoxin in the Ugandan grains expelled by South Sudan authorities.

Preliminary results from 1,700 tons of maize valued at $2 million now indicate failed Aflatoxin-level tests.

“The maize failed to pass EAC agreed permissible limit for Aflatoxin B1 in the EAC economic bloc,” Mr. Jacob Kabondo the coordinator of Uganda National Millers Association told Daily Monitor.

The agreed Aflatoxin B1 level in food in EAC is a maximum of five parts per billion (ppb). Elsewhere, the total Aflatoxin limit is 10 parts per billion, the experts told Daily Monitor Newspaper.

Blame game

This sparked a blame game, with grain millers pointing an accusing finger at poor storage facilities in South Sudan. They alleged that the maize was impounded in open space for almost two months and in Uganda for an additional three months.

However, the retests, which were carried out by the Ugandan National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) under the watch of EAC standard experts started in July and were completed recently.

Efforts by the No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper to get a comment from the CEO of the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards remained futile at the press time as known calls for the standards boss went unanswered.

Comments are closed.