FDA TRAINS STAKEHOLDERS IN THE AGRO PRODUCE INDUSTRY
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has charged agro produce importers and storage facility operators to be well informed about the FDA’s regulatory requirements in relation to their operations since this would facilitate the licensing of their facilities which would help promote public health and safety.
The FDA gave this charge on Tuesday, 6th August, 2019, in Accra during a one-day stakeholder meeting organised for agro produce importers and operators of agro produce storage facility.
Mrs. Isabella Mansa Agra, the Acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer, responsible for the Food Safety Division, in her welcome address on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Delese Darko, indicated that the purpose of the meeting was to sensitize agro produce importers and operators of agro produce storage facilities on the regulatory requirements for their operations.
She further indicated to participants that the meeting presents an opportunity for the various key player within the industry to make inputs with respect to the guidelines for the Licensing of Agro Produce Storage Facilities and Codes of Practice for Storage of Agro Facilities as well as to agree on timelines for implementation.
Mrs. Agra further mentioned that it has become a matter of urgency for the FDA to intensify the regulation of the importation of agro produce and their respective storage facilities as well the as operators of agro produce storage facilities to ensure the safety and quality of agro produce on the market.
She also reiterated that agro produce are by nature highly perishable; and that fruits as well as vegetables are known to be high risk foods due to their high moisture and nutrient contents with little or no application of heat before consumption. “It is therefore very important that good food handling practices including appropriate storage conditions are employed to maintain their quality and safety”, Mrs Agra added.
It was revealed that in 2017 and 2018, about 50% of the consumer complaints and 100% referrals from the FDA Port Office received by the Agro Produce and Biosafety Department (APBD) were related to spoilage of imported fresh fruits and vegetables which per the data were attributed to poor storage practices.
According to a report issued by the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in 2018, over 60% of plants and plant products imported into Ghana were agro produce that were meant for human consumption. The report also indicated that fresh fruits and vegetables were the second most imported commodity following rice imports. These therefore calls for the FDA to implement the appropriate regulatory measures including the licensing of the facilities where food is sold, prepared, packaged, conveyed, stored or displayed to ensure their quality and safety. The participants were also trained on the Legal Requirements for the importation and storage of agro produce, as well as the requirements for Licensing agro produce storage Operations facilities.