Caritas Uganda among Entities Decrying “rapidly increasing” Food Safety Concerns

Caritas Uganda conducts a press conference to mark the beginning of the world food safety day scheduled for 7 June 2023. Credit: Caritas Uganda

Caritas Uganda, the humanitarian and development arm of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC), is among entities raising alarm over food security concerns in the East African nation, which they are “rapidly increasing”. 

In a statement that the Program Officer of the  Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) in Uganda read out on June 4, the entities that include SEATINI Uganda,  Caritas Uganda,  Consent Uganda, Slow Food Uganda,  Cefroht Uganda, and Food Rights Alliance identify urban settings as the most affected.

“Food safety concerns are rapidly increasing in Uganda owing to the high use of contaminated water in the cleaning of fruits and vegetables as such chemicals are visible are almost vegetables such as tomatoes sold in the urban center, Kampala inclusive,” Peninah Mbabazi said in the press statement ahead of the 2023 World Food Safety Day.

Ms. Mbabazi lamented high levels of toxins that she said have been detected in foods in Uganda, adding that traders and transporters are responsible for the application of chemicals such as formalin on different kinds of food.

“Food safety risks have remained a permanent challenge to urban populations across the country due to food vending in open and designated places such as the roadside along drainage channels in taxi parks, marketplaces, and along all streets. Such places are grounds for most foodborne illnesses in the country,” she said.


Ms. Mbabazi said Uganda’s maize has been rejected in other nations due to high levels of aflatoxins. The toxins have also contaminated poultry and dairy products, she further said.

The Uganda-based official of the entity that works on trade, fiscal and development related issues aimed at achieving sustainable development and improved livelihoods in Africa added that a ban has been placed on Ugandan fish because of high levels of salmonella.

She said the issues contributing to food unsafety are exacerbated by the low levels of enforcement of standards by the government, which reduces compliance among food assets and in turn builds complacency among consumers.

In the press statement that was shared with ACI Africa, Ms. Mbabazi said Uganda’s government needs “to streamline the food safety enforcement mandate”.

As a way forward, she called for the fast-tracking of the implementation of food safety strategies and measures designed to ensure the control of aflatoxins in the food chain.

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The SEATINI Ugandan official said the cabinet’s resolution to establish the Food, Animal, and Planet Health Authority “should be fast-tracked to avoid duplications of mandates as often seen as a clear-minded and overall responsibility for ensuring food safety should be invested in the authority in collaboration with agencies for support.”

She also called on the Ugandan government “to restore hygiene and sanitary inspection systems to ensure adherence to the existing regulatory measures for food and food products including street food vending establishments, traditional food markets, primary food production centers and food processors and household hygiene and sanitation.”

“We further call for action to strengthen enforcement of Standards by increasing funding for quality assurance agencies through adequate staffing to undertake market surveillance, testing, and certification activities,” Ms. Mbabazi said during the June 4 press conference.

She continued, “The challenges faced by most of the coffee and dairy sector in meeting international quality standards has highlighted the need to improve post-harvest handling and storage.”

“This could involve providing training to farmers on best practices in post-harvest handling, investing in cold storage facilities, the establishment of government-sponsored common user facilities, and improving Market Information Systems to enable farmers to access international markets,” the SEATINI Uganda official said.


Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.