Ghana standards Authority extends education on aflatoxin to market women

The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has extended its aflatoxin campaign to sensitise food sellers and consumers in major markets on the harmful impact of aflatoxin contamination on human lives.

The five-day exercise, which would take the GSA officials to major markets, including the Makola and Agbogbloshie markets, is part of efforts to protect public health and facilitate trade.

The education on aflatoxin seeks to create an awareness of grains such as maize and groundnuts which are often susceptible to aflatoxin.

Some major markets targeted for the campaign are Madina, Nima, Agbogbloshie, Makola, Dome, Amasaman and Kasoa.

The GSA in collaboration with Ministry of food and Agriculture (MOFA) with support from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) launched a National Aflatoxin Sensitisation and Management (NASAM) project to create awareness of what needs to be done to arrest the damaging effects of aflatoxin.

Mr Derry Dontoh, Head of Mycotoxins Laboratory at GSA, at an outreach programme at the Makola Market said the campaign was necessary due to the damaging impact aflatoxin on human lives.

He said the consumption of aflatoxin contaminated foods posed many health risks so it was important that people were educated on moulds found in food.

“Our checks indicate that the number of liver cancer cases at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital has gone up and we realise that it is not due to Hepatitis B only, but also through contaminated food that we eat,” he said.

Mr Dontoh said besides the danger aflatoxin posed to people’s health, the presence of the toxins in food has affected export from Ghana since commodities have been rejected entry into the European Union.

This has affected the country’s international trade as foreign trade partners often blacklisted countries whose food products were contaminated with aflatoxin.

He said the country’s exports had been receiving warning alerts since 2007 because of the presence of aflatoxin in exported food products.

“We realised that foods exported from Ghana to countries in the European Union (EU) were often returned with alerts which indicate high levels of aflatoxins in the exported food product.

“If nothing is done about it and the country is blacklisted, no food will be allowed out of the country to any of the significant destinations and that could hurt the export business real hard,” he said.

He urged the stakeholders to use the many mitigation measures to eliminate, reduce or minimise the levels of aflatoxin in foods.

The GSA launched the NASAM project largely seeking to combat the aflatoxin problem by embarking on a sensitization campaign to disseminate information on aflatoxins and provide solutions.

Source: GNA

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