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Proposed regulation of standards of edible insects generates mixed reactions

FILE PHOTO: Nsenene 

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The decision by Uganda National Bureau of Standards-UNBS to regulate the standard of edible insects has generated mixed reactions from grasshopper consumers and dealers in greater Masaka region.

In its draft standards tabled in September, UNBS notes that given the increasing trade in edible insects and their products, there is need for standards to regulate their quality.

The draft specifically mentions ants and grasshoppers, which are common delicacies in Masaka and other parts of the country.

The move has drawn criticism from dealers and consumers of edible insects, saying they were never consulted.

Quraish Katongole, the chairperson old Masaka Basenene Association Limited, an umbrella body for grasshopper hunters, says as key stake holders in the business of edible insects they were not involved in the development of the proposed standards.

He cites provisions requiring them to state the date of packaging, country of origin, expiry date and physical address of the distributor and wonders how UNBS will be able to monitor all these requirements.

Katongole says that edible insects are widely harvested and some tapped on bulbs, which might make it difficult to determine their origin.

Hadadi Mugonza, a grasshopper hunter in Lwengo district, says they exercise a lot of caution at the time of catching edible insects to avoid contamination of grasshoppers because of their customers in Kampala want live insects, which ensures safety.

He says that if UNBS is interested in maintaining standards of the edible insects, the standard body should consider those who process them, where there is high chance of contamination.

Bushirah Nampijja, a grasshopper dealer in Masaka town, says she has no issues with the move to ensure standards for the edible insects because some of the people involved in catching grasshoppers don’t mind about the breeding areas and the material they use to catch the insects, which may be dangerous to consumers of theses insects.

She asks UNBS to engage all those involved in the business and sensitize them about the proposed standards.

Paul  Jjunju, a Consumer of grasshoppers says before the bureau moves to control the standards of edible insects  where they are packaged from and caught they should think of where these insects come from because the breeding places could be dangerous.

Vienne Ndugga, another grasshopper dealer in Masaka town, says that it may be hard to enforce standards of edible eats because the breeding places and selling points are spread all over the country.

Godwin Bonge Muhwezi, the head of Public relations at UNBS, says there is need for all edible insects whether farmed or harvested from the wild to meet the standards that are being designed by UNBS so as to minimize contamination and improve their habitability.

He says there is need to brand the insects and provide details about the processors, packaging and expiry dates. He says UNBS is still developing the standards and will present them for public discussion before they are enforced.

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