UNBS tips supermarkets on consumer protection using digital system

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The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has urged supermarket owners to ensure their outlets stock only certified locally manufactured commodities and inspected imported commodities.

Ms Sylvia Kirabo, principal public relations officer, said conformity aims to combat substandard goods and bolster consumer protection.

The standards watchdog has launched the Digital Conformity Marking (DCM) system that provides a track-and-trace mechanism for consumers, supermarkets, and other retail outlets to distinguish between genuinely certified and substandard commodities.

“Today’s primary focus is the Digital Conformity Marking programme,” said Ms Patricia Bageine Ejalu, deputy executive director in charge of standards at UNBS,

“We’ve introduced technology that allows the public to use their phones to verify if a product is genuinely certified by UNBS.”

Ms Kirabo said the system will be run using an app, Kakasa, with which the digital stamps can be scanned directly using a smartphone.

The conformity to digital system, observers say, aligns with the UNBS mission to facilitate trade, enforce standards, and protect public health, safety, and the environment from hazardous and substandard products.

The programme’s details were shared during a stakeholder engagement session with supermarket owners and operators in the central region, held at UNBS’s headquarters in Bweyogerere in Wakiso District.

“As supermarket owners, it’s your responsibility to ensure that all products on your shelves are certified and safe for consumers,” said Ms Bageine said.

Mr Phillip Kahuma, acting manager, and certification at UNBS, said the programme involves issuing digital conformity marks or stamps to certified commodities, providing consumers with proof that the products meet applicable standards and are of high quality.

“These stamps contain information such as product details, the standard under which it is assessed, certification date, batch number, manufacturer’s name, and more,” Kahuma said.

“Supermarket owners, consumers, and the public can use the Kakasa App to scan these stamps and verify product certification,” he added.

Currently, the DCM programme covers three commodity categories: construction materials, electrical commodities, and cosmetics.

Each digital conformity mark costs Shs21 and is expected to lower business costs, particularly for micro, small, and medium enterprises as manufacturers can order a number of marks matching their production volume.

During the Bweyogerere meeting, the standards body also warned supermarket owners against stocking expired products and altering expiry dates.

“We will not negotiate on the issue of expired goods on supermarket shelves. They are harmful to public health. Remove them before UNBS does,” said Mr Daniel Arorwa, manager market surveillance at UNBS.

“Changing expiry dates to extend shelf life is illegal and punishable by law. If you wouldn’t buy expired products for your family, don’t leave them for other families to buy.”

The standards body, a government agency responsible for developing, promoting, and enforcing national standards to protect public health, safety, and the environment from harmful and substandard products, urged supermarket owners to collaborate in the war against substandard commodities.

UNBS said encouraged to report any dealers of such commodities using the toll-free line 0800133133 or 0800233233.

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