Rwanda Standards Board
IKIGO CY’IGIHUGU GITSURA UBUZIRANENGE

Rwanda bureau of standards widens the scope of testing services for export promotion


 

During the past twelve months, Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) widened the scope of testing services while establishing five new Quality Testing Laboratories. The newly established laboratories include the Heavy Metals Laboratory, the Mycotoxins Laboratory, the Petroleum Testing Laboratory, the Prepackages Laboratory and the Small and Big Volume Laboratories.

 

1. HEAVY METALS LABORATORY 

Metals, a major category of globally-distributed pollutants, are natural elements that have been extracted from the earth and harnessed for human industry and products for millennia. An exception to metals being “natural” is plutonium, the material at the heart of nuclear weapons, which is created by man through the processing of Uranium.) Metals are notable for their wide environmental dispersion from such activity, their tendency to accumulate in select tissues of the human body and their overall potential to be toxic even at relatively minor levels of exposure. Some metals, such as Copper and Iron are essential to life and play irreplaceable roles in, for example, the functioning of critical enzyme systems. Other metals are xenobiotics, i.e., they have no useful role in human physiology (and most other living organisms) and, even worse, as in the case of lead and mercury, may be toxic even at trace levels of exposure. Thus, living organisms require varying amounts of "heavy metals." Iron,Cobalt, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum, and Zinc are required by humans. Excessive levels can be damaging to the organism. Other heavy metals such as Mercury, Plutonium and Lead are toxic metals that have no known vital or beneficial effect on organisms and their accumulation over time in the body can cause serious illness. RBS established the Heavy Metals Laboratory in order to avoid health risks for consumers.

 

RBS Heavy Metals Laboratory is equipped with PerkinElmer AAnalyst 800 and automated Ethos One microwave for samples preparation  with capacity of analyzing 26 heavy metals (Copper, Iron, mercury, Cadmium, selenium, Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Cobalt, Vanadium, Tellurium, Aluminum, Lead, Bismuth, Bore, Magnesium, Zinc, Germanium, Barium, Sodium, Chromium, Manganese, Arsenic, Nickel, Gold and Silver ).

Those metals are analyzed in food and drinks, body lotions and animal feeds. This laboratory is very important for both imports and exports commodities as it helps assure imports and export of quality and safe products.

 

2. PETROLEUM LABORATORY 

Rwanda Bureau of standards Petroleum Laboratory is equipped with distillation machine, Flash Point Tester and Viscometer which detect Petroleum products physical properties and good indicators of Gasoline, Diesel, Kerosene and other petroleum products adulteration.

 

Distillation Machine   

Petroleum Laboratory is equipped with distillation machine which detects any Gasoline, Diesel and Kerosene adulteration. Distillation determines the boiling range of a petroleum product by performing a simple batch distillation. This technique has been in use as long as the petroleum industry has existed. It is one of the oldest test methods under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee D02, dating from the time when it was still referred to as the Engler distillation.                                                                  

The distillation (volatility) characteristics of hydrocarbons have an important effect on their safety and performance, especially in the case of fuels and solvents. The boiling range gives information on the composition, the properties, and the behavior of the fuel during storage and use potentially explosive vapors.

The distillation characteristics are critically important for both automotive and aviation gasolines, affecting starting, warm-up, and tendency to vapor lock at high operating temperature or at high altitude, or both. The presence of high boiling point components in these and other fuels can significantly affect the degree of formation of solid combustion deposits.

 

Flash point Tester 

Fuels like gasoline or diesels are liquids that must convert to a vapor before they burn. The characteristic that describes how easily these fuels can be converted to a vapor is the flashpoint. The flashpoint is defined as the temperature at which the fuel produces enough vapors to form an ignitable mixture with air at its surface. 

If the temperature of the fuel is below its flashpoint, it can-not produce enough vapors to burn since its evaporation rate is too slow. Whenever a fuel is at or above its flashpoint, vapors are present. The flashpoint is not the temperature at which the fuel bursts into flames; that is the auto ignition temperature. Flash point is a good characteristic of Fuel Quality and can easily indicates any addition in Gasoline, Diesel, Kerosene and other fuels.

 

Viscosity

Kinematic viscosity is the measure of an oil’s resistance to flow and shear under the forces of gravity. Oil has a unique molecular structure, and larger molecules create greater resistance (higher kinematic viscosity). Highly viscous liquid flows less readily under the force of gravity. 

Oil viscosity is one of the most important Properties of oil because it brings out the oil’s capacity to lubricate moving parts. Incorrect viscosity leads to poor lubrication, and poorly lubricated machinery can quickly break down.

 

Addressing to the media the Director General of RBS, Dr. Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, stressed the relevancy of the Petroleum Laboratory. He stated that the laboratory will end the problem of trading of adulterated petroleum products that could cause car damages and hence, give credit to drivers of quality fuel.

 

3. RBS Mycotoxins Laboratory 

Mycotoxins are highly toxic secondary metabolic products of moulds mainly produced by Fusarium, Aspergillus and Penicillium species. The most common and regularly encountered mycotoxins can be divided into six major categories: aflatoxins, zearalenone, trichothecenes, ochratoxins, fumonisins and ergot alkaloids. 

 

Mycotoxins can be found in every variety of grain and forage produced for food and feed. They accumulate in food and feed crops in the field, during transportation or improper storage. 

The structural, chemical, biological and toxicological properties of mycotoxins are diverse. Toxicity levels are extremely variable, depending on intake level, duration of exposure, animal species, sex, age, breed, physiological status, nutritional standing, environmental conditions (including hygiene, temperature, air conditioning, humidity, production density) and eventual synergisms between mycotoxins simultaneously present in feeds or foods. 

 

The main toxic effects are carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, teratogenicity, nephrotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, reproductive disorders and immunosuppression. 

 

Mycotoxin levels are strictly regulated in most countries. Mycotoxins can affect the international trade of commodities. Trading of human foods containing mycotoxins levels above the maximum allowable levels might cause legal and economic sanctions.

 

The Codex Alimentarius, the Commission that was created in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, hosts the membership of 169 countries in the world and has established maximum allowable levels for mycotoxins to protect both consumers and international trade.

RBS, as a Standards Body with mandate to guarantee food safety and promote exports, has established Mycotoxins Laboratory to assure consumer safety and promote safe and competitive products for export. 

 

The Mycotoxins Testing Laboratory is well equipped with state of the art facilities and has technical personnel who carry out tests on raw materials, semi-finished and finished products. RBS Mycotoxins Laboratory offers a range of testing capabilities (Aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, G2 in cereals and cereal products).

In addition to trained Personnel, the Mycotoxins Laboratory is equipped with highly specialized equipment encompassing TLC scanIII, Automatic Developing Chamber ADC II, TLC Automatic Sampler IV and Imminoaffinity Column specific for each of Aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, G2.

 

4. PREPACKAGING CONTROL 

Rwanda Bureau of Standards recently started a new activity concerning control of commodities on the Rwanda market. 

The aim of this activity is to ensure fair trade and protect consumers from being deceived by inaccurate measurements.  The service helps the country in the following:

 

  • Protect the consumer against short measure and deceptive package. 
  • Provide the consumer with necessary information about the content of prepackages. 
  • Promote fair competition in the market by providing a level playing ground.
  • The prepackaging control helps industries and producers to determine what quantities to pack and labeling requirements to be followed as recommended by the International Organization of Legal Metrology. 

Through this exercise 17 industries were subjected to pre-packaging control, among them are food industries, cosmetics, paints etc, 11 supermarket also were controlled. The service was welcomed by both the producers, packers and consumers.

 

SMALL VOLUME LABORATORY  

The Bureau has expanded the scope of calibration for the Volume Laboratory. 

This laboratory started to deal with Small Volume measurements. Pipette Calibration Balance GPC225-CW which can calibrate small volumes ranging from 1 ml (1,000 µl) to 10 µl and data loggers used to control environmental conditions during calibration were added to other equipments that were used to calibrated other volumetric equipment (Above 1ml of capacity).

The following Volumetric instruments and Liquid handing instruments are calibrated:

-    Volumetric instruments

  • Bulb / graduated pipettes
  • Volumetric flasks
  • Graduated- / mixing-cylinders
  • Burettes
  • Automatic burettes

-    Liquid handing instruments

  • Bottle-top dispensers
  • Bottle-top burettes
  • Single channel Pipettes
  • Positive-displacement pipettes
  • Repetitive pipettes
  • Pipette controllers

Those equipments are commonly found in drugs industries, Clinical and testing laboratories, food and beverage industries, breweries and hotels.

 

Measurements made using calibrated equipments in the above mentioned areas will help physicians/doctors, for example, determine their patient’s ailments with accuracy. Physicians will prescribe the right doses which will be effective in curing the patients. Similarly, the environmentalists will be able to determine the level of contaminants in the effluent being released to the environment and will be in a better position to control pollution levels.

 

The beverage industry and the breweries will be able to produce beverages with the right PH (acidity or Alkalinity) as they will be able to determine the volume of the ingredients with more accuracy.

 

In the Leisure industry liquors are sold in tots (small measure of spirits). In enforcing fair trade where the buyer and the seller do not cheat one another, it is paramount that the tot measures are calibrated such that the measurements made are correct.

 

At the end of the laboratory showcasing tour by the media, the Director General of RBS informed that the newly established laboratories with ultra-high level of equipment have three functions, namely:

 

  • Promoting trade: test services for every product that falls within the scope of established laboratories will be offered at RBS whereas other products not covered are set for subcontracting test services from external laboratories with greater costs and longer delays for delivery of test results. 
  • Assure public safety: those quality testing laboratories are established to protect consumer safety through testing for compliance with Safety Standards. 
  • Assure environmental protection: the laboratories will assure trading of quality products prone to be harmless to our environment; not only surroundings but also humans.