Victoria Namutebi Wamala.
A Pineapple is a tropical and sub-tropical fruit grown in many African countries.
In Uganda, it is majorly grown for sale, a reason why standards were set to guide farmers dealing in commercial pineapple growing, majorly exporters.
The Uganda Standard (US EAS 6:2017) specifies requirements, sampling and test methods for commercial varieties of pineapples to be supplied fresh to the consumer.
The minimum quality requirements stipulated in the Pineapple standard state that fresh Pineapple supplied to the customer should be;
- Intact with or without the crown
- Sound without signs of rotting or deterioration
- Clean and free of foreign matter
- Free of pests
- Free from damage affecting the flesh
- Fresh appearance including the crown
- Free of internal browning and pronounced blemishes
- Free of abnormal external moisture
- Free of any foreign smell and/or taste
- With a clean, transversal straight cut stalk not longer than 2.0cm
- Ensure good personal hygiene during harvest to prevent surface contamination of the pineapples and Carefully pick only well matured fruits
- Transported using clean transportation means to avoid contamination
- Stored on pallets, tarpaulins, raised shelves away from bare ground
- Stored in clean, well ventilated, organised stores dedicated to pineapple handling
- Separated considering freshness, size, and wholeness
The standard DOES NOT allow the farmer to;
- Harvest immature fruits without evidence of ripeness- opaque, flavourless, exceedingly porous flesh
- Harvest immediately after spraying with pesticides
- Use unclean and non-food grade equipment
- Include over-ripened fruits- exceedingly translucent with fermented flesh
- Set the fruits directly on soil after harvesting
- Use containers or packaging materials that may cause external or internal damage to the fruits
- Use unclean and unsafe packaging materials
- Use dirty vehicles to transport the pineapples
- Use vehicles carrying other things and people to transport the pineapples
- Place pineapples in dirty and or/ damaged containers
- Overload /over stack pineapples on the vehicle/motorcycle/bicycle
- Store pineapples directly on ground/soil
- Store fresh pineapples with damaged, fermented, rotting pineapples
- Store pineapples together with other things like chemicals, animals, animal feeds, farm implements.
In addition to the requirements of the labeling of pre-packaged foods (US EAS 38:2014), the following specific provisions shall be legibly and indelibly labelled on each package;
- Name and physical address of the importer/packer/distributor
- Name of the produce as “Fresh Pineapples”
- Name of the variety or commercial type
- Country of origin
- Net weight in kilograms
- Size code
- Identification code and/or batch number and storage instructions.
The standard issues more guidelines in regards to classification and packaging.
The good news is that you can buy the standard online at UGX 30,000 without having to incur transport costs for visiting UNBS offices.
This can be done via https://webstore.unbs.go.ug
Or else, you can walk to the UNBS Headquarters at Bweyogerere Industrial Park and buy the standards physically from the UNBS Information Resource Center.
The writer is a Public Relations Officer at Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).