Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- With growing public concern over food safety in Ghana, the national Food and Drugs Board says it is stepping up measures to protect consumers.
"The Board has initiated a National Consumer Protection Programme (NCPP) to meet the challenges of providing quality administration for the protection of consumer interest," Kwamina Van-Ess, the Board chair said in Accra Wednesday.
He said the aim of the programme was to assure public health and safety and consumer confidence.
The Board was set up as a national regulatory authority to ensure safety and quality of food, whether locally manufactured, imported, exported, distributed or used in the country.
Under the new programme, environmental health officers would be trained to help maintain food safety standards in their locality.
Public education in the form of television documentaries and outreach programmes on food safety issues would also be enhanced while ongoing workshops on training of street food vendors on good hygiene practices would continue.
The Food and Drugs Board has been tough on manufacturers and importers of substandard food and drugs, a control extended to quality and labelling of products.
Ghana has regulations aimed at assuring safety of food, whether imported or manufactured locally, Van-Ess said, adding that the Board licenses all food manufacturers and issues export certificates in accordance with international requirements.
Given health concerns about the quality of meat, especially the fat content, the Board has strict laws on the type of meat allowed into the country.
The fat content of chicken has been fixed at 15 percent while that of pork and beef is 25 percent.
"The fat content of meat was set because it has been scientifically proven that too much intake of meat with high fat content can increase the incidence of cardiovascular diseases," Van-Ess said.
He described the standard of street food as "poor," accusing most street vendors of buying cheap and poor quality raw materials to prepare their food.
"There is also a high possibility of some of them using expired products to prepare food for consumers.
"When poor quality raw materials are used in the preparation of foods, the resultant food will definitely be of poor quality," Van-Ess stressed.
He said the Board has identified some problems with labelling, involving products without list of ingredients, best before dates, net content, name and location address of the manufacturers.
Imported products not properly labelled are detained at the points of entry, while regulatory sanctions are imposed and the importer is requested to re-label the products, and in some cases, the products are re-exported or destroyed.