Rwanda tightens rules on food safety

Low quality processed foodstuffs and beverages will be eliminated from the Rwanda market according to the Rwanda Standards Board (RSB). The prime regulatory body for all kinds of foodstuff and beverages in Rwanda, the  Rwanda Standards Board has notified manufacturers and processors of all kinds of food items to register their products with its quality assurance unit. Failure to register locally manufactured foodstuff will attract penalties, according to the RSB notice.

The director for quality assurance at RSB, Phillip Nzaire said the move aims at ensuring quality in the sector to make Rwanda’s agro-products competitive, as well as safeguard people’s lives by increasing food safety. Nzaire noted that the exercise is also intended to develop a database to ease government planning, especially infrastructure development for the sectors. “We also want to keep track of the processors, monitoring their products, and what kinds of interventions we can make to help improve production processes of local industries,” he added.

riceProcessors of food items and manufacturers of whole wheat flour, millet flour; sorghum grains, dry beans, edible full fat, soybean flour, pasta products, fortified milled maize, mortified malt, fortified edible oils and fats, fortified sugar, cooked packaged maize, black tea, roasted coffee beans and roasted ground coffee are being targeted.

Makers of honey, milk and its products; beef, cakes, cookies, fruit jams, jellies and marmalades, peanut butter; chilli sauce, ground cassava leaves (Isombe), among others, need also to register their products with RSB.

Damien Hakizimana, a wine maker in Nduba Sector, Gasabo District, said the exercise is timely, adding that it is only through quality assurance that Rwandan products can become competitive locally and in the region. “We need to register products to create confidence among the public about food items made locally… It will help us to be competitive on the regional and international markets,” Hakizimana said.

According to Alice Mukamuganga, another food processor in Kimironko, consuming quality food is a right, which local processors must respect by registering their products with RSB.

Laetitia Nyiraneza, a consumer of fortified products from Niboye sector, Kicukiro District, supported RBS’ move, saying some companies operate illegally and produce low quality food items.

John Gakumba, another consumer, said he bought juice made by a local company and found it was well past its expiry date.

Industry experts believe the new regulations will ensure that Rwandan people have access to high quality food items and puts food security as a priority for local manufacturers and importers of foodstuff in Rwanda.