By Joselyn B. Mwine
If you are thinking about opening a food business, there are many regulatory requirements that you will need to meet. UNBS regulates all foods and food ingredients on the market.
Examples of Food businesses NOT regulated by UNBS:
- Retail food establishments (i.e. grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and food trucks), which are regulated by state and local governments.
- Farmers markets
If you are starting a home-based food business, you will need to understand the requirements of UNBS. A private residence where a manufacturer chooses to dedicate premises or a room for value addition must meet the requirements and expectations of a manufacturing point used to manufacture, process, pack, or hold food.
Be sure to carefully review the regulations to understand how they apply to your unique set of circumstances.
Food safety skills & knowledge
- everyone in your business who handles food must know how to keep it safe to eat
- you or someone in your business may need formal training e.g. a certified food safety supervisor – check with your local council
Your premises should be designed and fitted out to handle food safely and avoid contamination.
Make sure you have:
- a layout and enough space for people to work without contaminating food (e.g. to keep raw and cooked foods separate and to keep waste away from food)
- convenient hand wash basin/s with warm running water, soap and single-use towels
- fridges that are big enough and powerful enough to keep food at 50 degrees Celsius or colder (and frozen food frozen hard)
- enough storage space to protect food and packaging
- floors, walls and benches that can be easily cleaned
- a supply of safe drinking quality water, good lighting and ventilation
- a system to safely store and dispose of waste
- protect food at all times during storage, processing, transport and display
- thoroughly wash and dry hands before handling food: use warm running water and soap – scrub wrists, palms, backs of hands, between fingers and under nails, and then dry hands using single-use towels
- do not handle food if you are ill or suffering from skin infections, Tuberculosis, etc.
- keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods – e.g. use different cutting boards, store raw food below ready-to-eat food
- protect food from pets, children and visitors, sick people, waste, chemicals, pests and dirt
Food manufacturers, processors, packers, transporters, distributors, receivers, holders, and importers are required to establish, maintain, and make available to UNBS upon request certain records that will allow the agency to identify all food products handled by the facility. Additionally, you should;
- keep records of your ingredients and suppliers, and businesses you’ve sold to
- if you are a food manufacturer, wholesale supplier or importer, have a written recall plan and follow it if a recall is needed
Food manufacturers are responsible for developing labels (including nutrition information) that meet legal food labelling requirements. All labelling of UNBS-regulated food products must be truthful and not misleading. Proper labelling, including nutrition labelling and labelling for the major food allergens, is required for most pre-packaged foods.
Note: The labels of food products sold in Uganda must be in English.
Keeping food safe by ensuring hygienic practices and traceability at every step of the manufacturing process are essential tasks for the food industry. Manufacturers should make use of standards as guiding documents that to ensure that food is safe for consumption.
Key potential benefits of using standards include:
- The ability to consistently provide food-related products and services that are safe and meet regulatory requirements
- Improved management of risks in food safety processes
- Standards help drive growth, cut costs and increase profits
- Standards give businesses a competitive edge
- Standards open up export markets for goods and services
The writer is a Public Relations Officer at Uganda National Bureau of Standards