A municipal council in Uganda has issued guidelines regulating the handling of grasshoppers to ensure food hygiene.
Masaka municipal council has issued guidelines regulating the handling of grasshoppers to stop contamination of the edible insects.
A circular issued by Masaka Municipal Health department requires all grasshopper vendors to register with local authorities as well as undergo medical examination to ascertain their health status.
Health officials said Thursday that the regulations were derived from the Public Health Act, which mandates them to control and regulate all businesses in the area to ensure that they comply with public health standards.
Besides registration, the circular also requires grasshopper dealers to pay for permits allowing them to operate in the municipality as well as maintain high levels of personal hygiene.
The circular bans the use of formalin to preserve grasshoppers and children below 14 years are not allowed to sell the edible insects.
Mr John Bahengaana, the Masaka town clerk, who signed the circular, said the regulations take immediate effect, adding that they are committed to prosecuting those who fail to comply with the guidelines.
He said that they have taken note of the poor sanitary standards of grasshopper dealers, saying some of them lie on the floor while waiting for customers, something that results in contamination of edible insects leading to health problems.
Mr Mande Ssenfuka, a grasshopper harvester in Nyendo-Ssenyange has dismissed claims of using of dangerous chemicals to preserve the insects.
He said some of their customers fail to wash the grasshoppers thoroughly before cooking them, which causes them stomach upsets.
Ms Janipher Kabagambe, a grasshopper vendor in Masaka, said that they had also taken note of improper hygiene amongst themselves, arguing that the regulations will help to put things in order.
Kuraish Katongole, the chairperson of grasshopper dealers in Masaka District, which is one of the leading producer of the edible insects, said they would liaise with the municipal authorities to harmonize their position on the enforcement of the policy without forcing vendors out of the business.