The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has designed new regulatory guidelines governing local food processors in a move aimed at increasing food fortification and tackle malnutrition.
The proposed guidelines, expected to be implemented next month, are also intended to improve the quality of the food that is processed in the country.
The guidelines, according to the regulator, were completed following discussions with processors on the existing gaps among local industries.
The proposal seeks to make it mandatory to fortify maize flour, wheat flour, cooking oil, salt and sugar.
“We are doing this to boost the standards of our products so they increasingly reach the international market in big volumes,” Dr Charles Karangwa, the Acting Director-General of FDA, told stakeholders dealing in food fortification including public and private operators.
FDA conducted a one-day awareness meeting with stakeholders on Tuesday.
Prior to the implementation, Karangwa said a series of supervisions will be carried out in processing plants and business that import fortified foods such as supermarkets for biomonitoring among other issues.
Without divulging details, he said that their recent supervisions revealed that some processors were producing substandard products.
The Ministry of Finance has already approved the fines and penalties for industry players who will breach the guidelines, Karangwa said.
“Our intention is not to fine manufacturers but to…ensure that all this (processing) is being done human health interests,” he noted.
Warning on food and drug advertisement
Karangwa slammed manufacturers who exaggerate while advertising and promoting their products, especially fortified foods, warning that measures will be taken against them.
“Manufacturers should be careful of the content they use in their advertisements and on other promotional materials to avoid misleading people in order to sell big volumes of their products,” he said. “They should be consulting us so we make sure the information in the advertisement going to the public is true.”
The regulators say they will work with universities in conducting researches.
“We will be working with the regulator to ensure that what’s said in the advertisements is accurate so that consumers aren’t affected by the substandard products,” said Dr François Niyonzima, the Vice-Chancellor in Charge of Academics and Research at INES Ruhengeri.
Lambert Nahimana, the Quality Assurance Manager at Bralirwa, said fortified food regulations help boost businesses as substandard food products will be banned.
“Substandard foods were a big threat to our businesses because we struggle to reach our customers on the market, as needed,” he said, adding that, “We believe new regulatory guidelines are there to not only improve the quality of the products we make but also put people’s health in safe hands.”
With the new guidelines, he said, substandard products will not have space in the market.