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The Ministry of Trade (MoT) is urging 26 bottled water manufacturing companies to obtain accreditation from the Ethiopian Standards Agency within the coming three months. Recently, the Inspection and Regulation Directorate at the ministry wrote warning letters to the companies noting that they must be accredited within the grace-period.
The agency, which is in charge of assessing quality and reporting to regulatory bodies like the Food, Medicine, and Health Care Administration (FMHCA), says the time has come to aggressively push the companies to become accredited and, if they fail to do this before the deadline, it will revoke their licenses.
“We want the companies to exist and to export their products but we also can’t compromise on health, so in principle, it is not our goal to push the regulatory body to impose sanctions on them. We are trying to work with the companies and announced that they needed to come and get accredited,” Gashaw Tesfaye, Deputy Director General at the Standard Agency said.
Bottled water is one item product that needs to be accredited but so far only six of the 32 bottled water brands have followed through. These include: Abyssinia, Aqua Addis, Eden, Origin, Yes and Spa; according to information available at the agency.
Regulating products has been challenging because there was not any money allocated in the MoT budget for checking up on companies and the agency has not been mandated to regulate these products. As a result Gashaw says they have been able to operate without accreditation.
Three months ago standard agency started using technology that made it easier to determine if products met quality standards, at a cost of 5 million birr.
Some manufacturers say they need more time and help from the agency. Several said that it has taken them months to go through the process.
Tekae Birhane, corporate communication and promotion director says they are working harder to make the process more efficient.
“Now it is easy for us to assess and accredit them more quickly. We have developed a method which will enable us to accredit many manufacturers at a time,” he said