The Uganda Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has advised nsenene (edible grasshopper) dealers to adhere to established national standards for edible insects in order to safeguard consumer health. The Uganda Standard (US 28 EAS 39:2002) for Edible Insects mandates handlers to produce, prepare, and handle these insects in line with the Code of Practice for hygiene in the food and drink manufacturing industry.
The standard stipulates that the maximum aflatoxin content in edible insects, determined according to the method in US ISO 16050, should not exceed five to 10 micrograms per kilogram, depending on the type of toxic substance. UNBS has reiterated warnings about potential health risks associated with consuming improperly handled insects, emphasizing the importance of adhering to the specified standards.
Additionally, the standard requires edible insects to meet the maximum limits for heavy metals established by the CODEX Alimentarius Commission, a specialized body implementing food standards set by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.
According to Uganda Standards, edible insects must comply with the maximum pesticide residue and veterinary residues limits established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission for similar commodities. The insects should be free from adulterants, unnecessary material, objectionable odor, infestation, and contamination from pests.
UNBS encourages consumers to report any suspicions of contamination through their toll-free numbers, as detecting aflatoxins is challenging for ordinary consumers. In March, UNBS, in collaboration with Makerere University School of Food Technology, Nutrition, and Bio-Systems Engineering and with support from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, launched the Edible Insects Standard, US 2146:2020 Edible Insects –Specification. The standard aims to promote the safe consumption of edible insects, particularly as demand grows in the export market, including among Ugandans abroad.
Concerns have recently arisen about the alleged use of formalin as a preservative and insecticide spray on nsenene to prevent flies, posing challenges to the overall safety of these highly perishable products.