Consumption of unsafe food is increasingly becoming an urban problem as urban populations continue to expand in Uganda. A case is shared of Fort Portal as one of the newly created cities in Uganda. The city is gazetted a regional tourist hub, creating an influx of new populations in hope to tap into the vast but economic and social opportunities. The City’s hinterland and neighboring districts are known for the good and conducive climate and fertile soils that support agriculture and massive production and exportation of food to the neighboring cities, towns and countries.
As the city grows, it’s also facing challenges of managing urban waste causing a risk to food contamination and other atrocious public health outcomes.
It’s worth noting that access to diverse, nutritious and safe food is every person’s human right. These rights are however being silently denied from the food consumers through a broken food system and unregulated food management practices.
Food safety is a key component in building a healthy and productive population. At all levels of the food system, there is need for optimal food safety handling procedures to enable maintenance of the food safety.
Minimum standards of food sanitation and hygienic practices at different stages of food handling can save a great deal of human life and protect people from food borne illnesses that result from consumption of contaminated food.
Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC) in partnership with Kabarole District and Fort Portal Tourism City with funding from HIVOS and Health Food Africa conducted an inspection of the food stalls and preparation points including food markets, abattoirs, food kiosks, restaurants and hotels in Fort Portal Tourism City to understand the food safety situation at the different food handling points.
From the study, it was observed that the population of study is at increased risk of contracting food borne diseases and victims of food poisoning.
The findings revealed a high risk of food contamination as food was found to be prepared, served and sold in a state that makes it unsafe for human consumption. Here is a snapshot of what was found out:
- Placing food on unclean surfaces or directly on the ground
- Selling food in dirty places and closer to garbage landfills
- Using contaminated hands and equipment to touch or process food.
- Food handlers operating in unhygienic conditions such as closer poorly maintained sanitary places, animal breading or feeding areas
- Cooking and serving food in unconducive environments and dirty utensils
- Slaughtering animals in substandard abattoirs with poor drainage system
- Slaughtering animals on the ground
All the above practices increase the risk of food contamination that may result into food poisoning and food borne diseases. It’s a call to all food handlers to adhere to the food handling protocols to ensure maintenance of food safety for human consumption. There is also need for the city authorities to enforce the adherence to food handling protocols. They should also ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to maintain the sanitation and hygiene in the markets and any food selling points.
Watch related video on YouTube.