WFP halts food aid to Uganda following deaths linked to cereal

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The World Food Programme (WFP) has halted the distribution of a fortified porridge to refugees and people suffering from malnourishment in Uganda following the deaths of four people after eating the porridge.

WFP and the Ugandan government have launched an investigation into the deaths and around 260 hospitalisations linked to the porridge. Two men, one woman and a child are known to have died after eating the food product and distribution has been halted across the country until inquiries are concluded.

Deaths linked to WFP food aid

The investigation comes a month after WFP announced there was a quality issue with its Super Cereal on February 11. However, the United Nations agency said there was “no issue with the safety of the product” and the issue simply revolved around there being too little protein and fat to meet normal specifications.

On Wednesday, Uganda’s health ministry said the autopsies of two people failed to determine their cause of death. It said further toxicological tests would be conducted. However, authorities said the woman who died after eating the food product died from excessive vomiting and cracks were found in her stomach – “a result of something chemical in the food content.”

On Tuesday, a joint statement from Uganda’s health ministry and WFP said an estimated 262 people had been hospitalised since March 12 in possible relation to consuming the food product.

Samples of the cereal have been sent to Kenya and South Africa for testing.

Featured image: By USAID in Africa – Uganda Refugee Settlements: Emergency Food Distribution, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70814061

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.