FDA ORGANISES A DURBAR AT ACHIMOTA MARKET
As part of activities to ensure safer foods in the various markets under the theme “Safe Handling of Food Produce in the Market,” the FDA organized a market durbar at the Achimota Market on 28th February 2018.
The purpose of the durbar was to train food vendors on issues pertaining to public health and safety, and to get responses and information from them that would help create interventions to be used to promote the sale of safe food to consumers.
To ensure that the training addressed issues peculiar to the Achimota Market, the FDA Officers toured the market prior to the start of the durbar to identify lapses in food handling in order to effectively address them in their delivery.
Mr. Edward Archer, an officer with the Food Safety Management Department of the FDA, in his opening remarks, reiterated the role of the FDA as the regulatory body that ensures that foods sold are safe and healthy for human consumption. He made vendors aware of FDA’s interest and intention to help food handlers conform to best practices through education and training first and foremost rather than cracking the whip on bad practices.
Mr. Archer educated the vendors on food adulteration which is addition of substances or extraction of quality material from food thereby making it unsafe for consumption. He cited examples of food adulteration commonly found in markets and enumerated the harmful effects in consuming adulterated food. Some examples cited were addition of Sudan dye to palm oil to deepen its red color, addition of gari to powdered (grounded) pepper to increase quantity, and addition of flour or dough to groundnut paste to increase quantity. He pleaded with them to always put the health of consumers first before personal gains.
The food vendors were also advised to sell and store food products under right conditions to keep them safe for consumption. They were educated on the need to keep food on raised platforms or tables rather than the bare floor to avoid contamination. They were cautioned against exposing product to direct sunlight that would affect its quality. The dangers of selling expired food products to consumers as well as selling dented, bloated and rusted can products to consumers were also explained to them.
Mr. Archer further taught vendors personal and environmental hygiene. He advised sellers to keep their stalls and the general surrounding of the market clean always to prevent germs and breeding grounds for rodents and pests that would contaminate food. As an example, he stated the poor hygienic practices at the mills. He also made them aware of the need to personally keep themselves clean; wearing clean cloths, tidy hair and clean nails, regularly washing their hands with soap under clean running water especially after visiting the toilet. He stressed on the importance for them to practice both personal hygiene and environmental hygiene together to ensure safer foods.
Mr. Bruno Kwame Kamade, an officer with the Animal Product Department of the FDA, sensitized meat sellers to buy their meat from Municipal Assemblies’ certified abattoirs. Mr. Kamade said that these abattoirs have veterinary officers assigned to examine animals before slaughter and hygiene permits have been issued by the FDA therefore the safety of the meat can be guaranteed. He thus stated that, transportation of meat must be done in cold vans in which the quality of the meat would not be compromised. To cold store operators, he advised them to clean their fridges and freezers regularly and keep their meat and fish well frozen under the right temperature. He cautioned them against turning their stocked fridges off and on resulting in temperature fluctuation that would eventually cause products to be unwholesome for consumption.
In addition, the food vendors were also educated on harmful effects of public smoking, abuse of tramadol, abuse of energy drinks and dangers associated with patronage of peddled drugs.
In response to the training received, the vendors pleaded with the Food and Drug Authority to train consumers (buyers) on healthy foods as well. They mentioned that, some consumers are the very people whose demand for certain items drive them to adulterate their products in order to meet their demand and make sales.
Madam Grace Okai, the market queen of the Achimota Market, on behalf of the food vendors, expressed gratitude to the FDA for the durbar. She assured the FDA of their willingness and readiness to incorporate what they have learnt into their daily duties and practices and also handle food well and hygienically henceforth to guarantee safer foods.