Mr Douglas Tagoe, the Greater Accra Regional Environmental Health and Sanitation Director, says Accra is sitting on ‘food poisoning time bomb’ with unwholesome food sold ‘everywhere.’
He said it was unfortunate people jostled for food everyday but unconcerned about where the food was brought from.
“Most of these foods come into the city from corners. Corners that you cannot even think of. Some behind drains, behind the public toilet, some around it, and it is only when you visit such places that you can know how they operate,” Mr Tagoe said.
He said preparation of food in an unhygienic places posed grave danger of food poisoning to unsuspecting consumers and as such people needed to be mindful of where they patronised food.
Mr Tagoe was speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra on the issue of food safety and food wholesomeness in
the national capital.
The interview followed incidents of suspected food poisoning at Marwako Restaurant last week, which had led to the closure of some branches of the restaurant.
Statistics from the World Health Organisation indicate that unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases ranging from diarrhoea to cancers.
It said an estimated 600 million- almost one in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420, 000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years.
US$110 billion is lost each year in productivity and medical expenses resulting from unsafe food in low- and middle-income countries, it added.
According to the Director, even though such data was not available locally, the chain of food safety was a cause of concern for everyone.
“In the case of Marwako Restaurant, however, I suspect the food poisoning could have come from either the utensils used in preparing the food, which was not properly washed or the cutlery set used in eating,”, Mr Tagoe added.
“This is because the Restaurant has been operating for long time and has not experienced such an unfortunate incident,” he explained and advised that restaurants, food vendors, and chop bars handled utensils and cutlery well.
He cautioned food vendors against the use of rotten vegetables, especially tomatoes in preparing food because it made it stale, bad, wrong, and dangerous for consumption.
“Sometimes it is difficult because these market women think of the money they will lose hence reducing and selling such tomatoes at cheaper price, but authorities must try to conscientise them.”
At Agbogbloshie Market, the GNA observed that ready to eat foods were exposed and other foodstuffs handled in unhygienic manner.
At some chop bars and restaurants, hand washing bowls were either not washed or not washed well before given to new clients.
Hand wipes or tissue papers were also exposed and handled by waiters and waitresses before given to customers.
Waiters and waitresses were dressed improperly, with some conversing while serving customers, with the likelihood of saliva dropping into the food.
Some chop bars and restaurants were also operating in unhygienic environments.
Mr Tagoe urged customers to inspect the health certificate of food vendors to be sure of what they were buying.
He also advised food vendors to always practice proper hygiene when preparing and selling food for the safety of all.