Association advocates regulation of food processing

The Sunyani Cooperative Food Crop Processors Society, has advocated regulation of the food processing industry in Ghana, to help address challenges confronting the sector.

A study conducted by the Sunyani Cooperative Food Crop Processors Society Limited, as part of an advocacy action has shown that non-food grade metal materials are used in fabricating 97 per cent of small–scale food processing equipment.

These were contained in a statement signed by Mr. Joseph Damoah, chairman of the Society, copied the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Sunyani.

It said samples of food items were tested at Sunyani, Abesim, Yawhimakrom, New Dormaa, Chiraa, Nsoatre, Atronie, Fiapre and Odumase in the Brong Ahafo Region.

The statement said the effect of metals such as iron, cadmium and lead were of major public health concern.

It said: “Lead poisoning for instance can cause brain damage, forgetfulness, paralysis and death. Ecoli, which is an organism in contaminated water can cause diarrhea. Salmonia organism from dirt can cause typhoid fever.”

It said notwithstanding its importance, the food processing industry faced numerous challenges including the use of non-food grade metal materials in fabricating food processing machines that easily rust and tear, thereby introducing numerous health hazards into the food chain.

The statement said: “There is also the problem of processing food under unhygienic conditions that leads to contamination, food poisoning and long term diseases.”

It said about 95 per cent of food processors captured in the survey “did not have a working relationship with the Food and Drugs Board and Ghana Standards Board and the majority of respondents did not know the procedures for certifying their products”.

The statement said although policy makers were aware of enough policies and standards for food processing in the country, there was the need for enforcement, education and involvement of food processors in policy and standard formulation and implementation, as well as the need for more bye–laws at the local government level.

It said: “Most of the standards formulated by the Ghana Standards Board, and those under good manufacturing practices are voluntary standards, and the breach of these standards is not punishable by law and there is the need to make some of them punishable by law.”

The statement said policy proposal by the 1,600 food processors in the Sunyani Municipality appealed to the Government to subsidize and make available, stainless steel machines and equipment to food processors, to be in line with the Government’s policy on plant, machinery and equipment.

It said: “To ensure the adoption of right hygienic practices, the association as part of activities outlined in its advocacy action arranges for seminars and workshops with various stakeholder on food safety.”

The statement said the association would dialogue with relevant institutions for the adoption of measures to regulate food processing.

Source: GNA

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