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Snack vendors reusing cooking oil-Unhealthy

FILE PHOTO: Cooking oil

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Henry Kamugisha operates a pork joint in Kikoni Makerere, a Kampala suburb. Kamugisha joint sells fried and roasted pork. He reuses the oil generated from the pork for a month and only keeps reducing it as it increases.

According to Kamugisha, because the oil from the pork fat keeps increasing, they share it with other pork joint where there is shortage.

Kamugisha says they neither filter nor clean the oil that they store in a jerry can before they reuse it. Pork vendors are not the only on reusing cooking oil. Meddie Lugema sells deep fried snacks such as mandazi, half cakes, chips, samosas, deep fried chapattis, kebabs, chaps, sausages and chicken in Kikoni, Bwaise and Wandegeya among other places.

According to Lugema, he prepares all the snacks in the same oil one after the other and can use a 20 litre jerry can of cooking oil in his operations within four days. Asked whether is aware of the dangers of reusing cooking oil, Lugema said he doesn’t see any health implication provided the oil is well heated on the next reuse.

But Dr. Rodrigo Nyineoburyo, a Public Health Specialist with USAID, says reused cooking oil is hazardous to health due to its short term and long term implications. He explains that reused cooking oil can cause food poisoning, digestive disorders and cancer.

Nyineoburyo says cooking oil should only be used at least three times and should be filtered each time. He also says it should been cooled down completely and stored in a closed container in a clean environment.

Peter Kaujju, the Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA Spokesperson, says the authority is struggling regulate the informal food businesses like the roadside vendors and some pork joints despite the existing laws. However, says the Authority intends to certify all eateries under its directorate of Health and Environment.

Kaujju also encourages members of the public to report food points that handle foodstuffs in a way that may endanger consumers. He notes that KCCA has a full time surveillance team that tries to monitor the eateries.

The Public Health Act emphasizes protection of the Public Health through the regulation of the preparation and sale of food. According to the Act, food is defined as any article which ordinarily enters into or is used in the composition or preparation of human food.

The Uganda Human Rights Commission report 2018 on the “Challenges In Enforcement Of The Right To Quality Food In Uganda” points out that the Food and Drugs Act 1959 is outdated and does not respond to current challenges regarding food safety and consumer protection.

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