Education authorities in Masaka district are investigating reports of poor quality and unsafe food in schools.

Gerald Nsambu, the Masaka District Education Officer says that they obtained intelligence reports about school administrators who have made it a habit to deliberately compromise the quality of food in the pretext of cutting down on expenses.  

The reports according to Nsambu allude to adulteration and contamination of food with unsafe substances that include among others maize bran and other byproducts from different grains that are mixed into the maize flour, which is eventually used to prepare students’ meals.  

He says the inspectors are moving out in schools to pick samples of food and taking special interest in statements of the learners about the quality of the food they are fed, which exposes them to risks of contracting food-borne illnesses.  

Nsambu warns that they are going to be tough on the culprits, to ensure the safety of the learners, indicating that they have asked police to join the school inspectors to examine the situation.  

Besides the pursuit to increase the volume of food supply, Nsambi says there are also reports of cooks who apply other unsafe additives while preparing the students’ meals.

He challenged the school administrators to be cautious about the people they hire as cooks, saying that some habits of contamination are done in the process of cooking in kitchens. 

The investigations come in the wake of incidents of food poisoning that were reported in schools in different parts of the country especially last term, when several students were admitted to hospitals after they consumed contaminated food.  

Earlier reports alluded that some of the incidents were a result of poor storage of food, which led to unintended toxifications while others were acts of malicious individuals.  

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), the agency responsible for the safety of consumers and users of food and non-food products has been implementing several measures to ensure better food safety and standards, but their interventions are yet to directly cover the final consumers.  

Records at the Ministry of Health indicate that about 1.3 million cases of foodborne illness are registered annually in Uganda. This accounts for 14 percent of all cases treated as reported by the Ministry.  

URN.

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