The Ashanti Regional Head of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), John Laryea Odai Tettey, has cautioned traders in the markets who sell adulterated foodstuffs to desist from the act or face the full rigours of the law.
The attention of the FDA was drawn to the fact that some food items in the market such as palm oil, honey, powdered pepper and powdered tomatoes are mixed with certain items which are not good for human consumption when a former Member of Parliament for Oforikrom Constituency, Elizabeth Agyemang, and her ‘People’s Mother Foundation’ held a women’s empowerment conference for market women in Kumasi, Ashanti Region.
Some of the women claimed that those who deal in powdered tomatoes, use corn flour and food colour to make it red and sell it to unsuspecting buyers. For palm oil, which is not a new thing, some traders still mix them with Sudan IV popularly known as ‘sourdine’, which is poisonous; and others also add colour and other mixtures to powdered pepper to make it red.
Another issue that popped up was that some bakers add cassava flour (kokonte powder) to baking flour in producing bread.
The women then asked the Food and Drugs Authority to frequent the markets to help sanitise the markets of these unscrupulous traders as the ‘fake’ products have the potential to affect the health of consumers negatively.
Mr. Tettey confirmed the allegations by the market women and warned those involved as the FDA is on high alert to bring perpetrators to book.
“We have also sampled several products sold in the markets that are potentially adulterated like palm oil, powdered pepper and other products, and we are moving step by step. The last time we checked, the adulteration of palm oil with sourdine red dye, which should not be found in food, was high but our latest check indicates that it has reduced. But there are still elements in the markets that are adulterated.
“If we detect that your products have contaminants, you will be arrested and prosecuted. We want to advise all market women – those involved in packaging palm oil and all sorts of products in the market – to be aware because we are on high alert,” he said.
Mr. Tettey, however, noted that the FDA would be working with the ‘Commodity Queens’ to help them clamp down on the activities of these traders. He encouraged the market women to be vigilant and report the ‘fake’ people among them.
“Very soon, we will bring the Commodity Queens together and discuss issues because they have a serious role to play. They are in charge and are with the people. Once they receive the information, they will act accordingly.
“Unfortunately, most of them do not dare report such things to the FDA. We will encourage them to come forward with such information,” he said.
For her part, Convener for People’s Mother Foundation, Elizabeth Agyeman, was not happy about the revelations on the adulterated food items. She called on the Commodity Queens to be vigilant and report for a safe and better country.
“I have been overwhelmed with the issues raised here by the women because we are eating contaminated foods on our blind side. It is good these things have come to our notice at this conference. It seems the FDA focuses more on the products imported into the country than the originals in this country.
“The commodity queen mothers should be vigilant in the markets and report all of these negatives in the market for a better Ghana,” she reiterated.