The Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industries has ordered the Uganda National Bureau of Standards– UNBS to withdraw certification marks from seven locally produced soft drinks.
The affected carbonated and non-carbonated energy (soft) drinks include Power Bank, Kabody Coffee, Smart Charger, Akaboozi, Sabarara Extra, Mukama Nayamba, Ntare Saana and Kituzi Juice. Several soft and energy drinks have flooded the market in the recent past with the producers claiming that the drinks have the potential of enhancing physiological functions including sexual potency and vitality.
The ultimatum by the parliament follows findings by the National Drugs Authority – NDA, which confirmed allegations that some soft drinks such as Akaboozi and Kabody Coffee were laced with sexual enhancing ingredients. A report released by NDA disclosed that it sampled 40 products 38 of which were locally manufactured in Uganda. Only Red Bull and Azam were imported.
“Mukama Nayamba, Rock Boom had poor labelling of illegible batch numbers and lacked expiry dates, while Kabode Coffee had an extremely high alcohol content of up to 20 percent, contrary to the standard of 0.6 – 15 per cent”, part of the NDA report reads.
Mwine Mpaka, the Committee Chairperson said the report implicates soft drinks like Kituzi Juice, Power Bank and Ntare Saana of misleading consumers as none alcoholic drinks yet the NDA test indicated otherwise.
Upset by the NDA report, Gaffa Mbwatekamwa, the Igara West County MP threatened to sue UNBS for misleading the country by certifying harmful products.
Michael Timuzigu Kamugisha, the Kajara County MP demanded that the committee gives UNBS 60 days to undertake a comprehensive and complete market survey of all other products so that defaulters face prosecution.
In her response, Patricia Bageine Ejalu, the Deputy Executive Director of UNBS in charge of standards who interfaced with the Committee alongside other NDA officials, said that the products in question where already suspended for breaching the UNBS Act of 2018.
The legislators tasked UNBS to withdraw the certification marks from the affected products and report back to Parliament within seven days and communicate the directive to the public through various media outlets to salvage consumers from health hazards.
UNBS is a parastatal body established by the Act of Parliament under the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry to enforce standards in the protection of public health, safety and the environment against dangerous, counterfeit and substandard products.