Authorities in Uganda are set to destroy tonnes of locally produced maize consignments previously seized by South Sudan after a fresh independent test carried out by regional experts returned positive results of above normal level of the aflatoxin.
According to The Daily Monitor, the East Africa Community standard experts carried out the fresh test that confirmed the result of the first test carried out by South Sudan Bureau of Standard in May, 2023.
Preliminary lab results reportedly showed that 1700 tonnes of maize products valued at $2 million have now exceeded the normal quantity of the chemical that is scientifically proven to cause cancer.
Jacob Kabondo, Uganda Millers Association Coordinator, said the maize failed to pass the tolerated limit for the aflatoxin.
“The maize failed to pass the EAC agreed permissible limit for Aflatoxin B1 in the EAC economic bloc,” Kabondo said.
In mid-October, South Sudan Ambassador to Uganda Juach said Uganda traders had resumed exporting their maize to South Sudan after halting supplies for over three months due to the measures taken to address food safety concerns, but which escalated into an uneasy trade row.
Juach said the differences that developed in May 2023 concerning the test conducted by the South Sudan Bureau of Standards were resolved after the two bureau standards met.
He stressed that the situation resulted from the fact that some people were found buying food from unregistered maize producers.
“It was also found that some of these people were really not buying from registered grain producers; they were just picking from the markets,” he said.
“So, it was resolved that, before this grain crosses into South Sudan, the Uganda Bureau of Standard will have to certify that they passed the quality checks and therefore will have no problem that has the agreement, and since then nothing has been happening,” he added.
In May 2023, the South Sudan Bureau of Standards held 62 Uganda trucks loaded with maize grains after a lab test found the items contained dangerous chemicals.
Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring toxin produced by certain mould species that can contaminate crops and pose health risks to humans and animals if consumed.
In February 2023, Ugandan food scientists found that maize, sorghum and groundnuts produced locally posed a cancer risk.
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