The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has launched the Progressive Licensing Scheme (PLS) for Small Scale and Cottage sized Food Processors. The Progressive Licensing Scheme is a Government of Ghana initiative that would be implemented by the FDA that seeks to introduce a three (3) staged licensing regime to support small business units to improve on the safety, quality and wholesomeness of their products.
Mrs Delese Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, speaking at the virtual meeting to launch the scheme underscored that the FDA has introduced the PLS to encourage small scale and cottage sized food processors to be compliant with the food safety and quality standards of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851) in the interest of public health and safety.
Mrs Darko however highlighted that the majority of the small and cottage scale business units have limited resources for effective technological inputs and are ill-equipped to deal with the maintenance of food safety and quality in a scientific and sustained manner. These smaller business units however serve as hubs for thriving local industry sector, which would drive broad-based economic growth and structural transformation of the economy as a whole, she stressed.
She further noted that the transformation of the local food manufacturing industry can only be possible if regulators such as the FDA decide to ensure that the Small scale and Cottage sized food processors conform to the safety and quality requirements so that these food products can be traced and recalled whenever necessary.
The Progressive Licensing Scheme is aimed at accelerating the growth of the local food industry to an extent that all grocery shops and supermarkets will be stocked with at least 60% of made in Ghana food products, Mrs. Darko added.
She further revealed that in developing this Progressive Licensing Scheme for small scale and cottage sized food processors, the FDA has taken into consideration five (5) principles that underpin food regulation. These considerations include the establishment of emergency procedures for dealing with particular hazards, such as, product recall, the development of Science-based food control strategies and the establishment of priorities based on risk analysis and efficacy in risk management.
The others are the establishment of a holistic and integrated initiative, which target risks and impact on economic well-being, as well as educating owners of these small businesses to understand that the primary responsibility for food safety and quality rests with them.
Mrs Darko thus assured that the FDA would work assiduously to protect the consumer against unsafe, impure and fraudulently presented food by prohibiting the sale of food, not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser which will ensure the maintenance of consumer confidence in the food industry.
On his part, Dr. Sammy Ohene, the Chairman of the Governing Board of the FDA, who chaired the event commended the FDA for coming up with such a brilliant initiative and indicated that the launch is being done at a time when a number of cottages/small-scale businesses are being financially supported by the government through the NBSSI.
Mr Ohene further stated that the strategy to improve the well-being of cottage/small-scale food processors without compromising food safety is a step in the right direction and he therefore believes that these adjustments made by the FDA will go a long way to enhance food safety in the cottage/small scale food processing Industry.
He reiterated that the Cottage/Small scale Food Industry sector serves a large number of the population hence its importance cannot be over-emphasized and hoped that this program will encourage every Cottage/Small Scale Food processor to comply with the rules and regulations of the FDA.
He thus charged stakeholders to work in tandem with the FDA and actively contribute to the successful implementation of this new scheme because the FDA cannot achieve the implementation of this scheme without the cooperation of the industry.
Mrs. Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, the Executive Director of National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) congratulated the FDA for launching the friendly act and mentioned that the launch of this scheme is a start of an evolution for activities of all small-scaled and cottage food processers. The launch of this scheme will not only enforce, but to educate, resource and enlist all SMEs unto this scheme for their products to be safe for consumption, she added.
Mrs. Yankey-Ayeh therefore called on other government agencies to provide the needed support to SMEs as being done by the FDA, to ensure that their operations are formalized.
Some dignitaries that participated of the virtual launch that hosted 120 participants from a cross-section of the general public included Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, the Executive Director of National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), Professor Alex Dodoo, the Director-General of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Dr. Mrs. Mary Obodai, the Director-General Food Research Institute (FRI), The General Secretary of the Food and Beverage Association of Ghana (FABAG), Mr. Samuel Ato Aggrey and The President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Dr. Yaw Adu Gyamfi.
The FDA exists to protect public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, food, biological products, cosmetics, medical devices, household chemical substances, tobacco and the conduct of clinical trials in the country.