Mr Sabastian Mawuli Hotor, the Upper East Regional Head of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), has said it is untrue the notion amongst some producers of consumable products that the Authority’s request for medical examination was to check their Human Immune Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) status.
He said the Authority often requested for typhoid test, tuberculosis, malaria among other diseases that could easily be transferred into foods that they produced, “so we want people to know and understand that we are not checking for HIV, we just want to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of the food that they are putting on the market.”
He said many personnel from the processing industries have not undergone any medical checks to ensure the safety of their products, and said the Authority’s interest was to rule out communicable diseases among producers of consumable products.
He said, “They do not see the need for it, some people are even scared to go and do medical tests because they think that all forms of tests are supposed to check whether you are HIV or not, meanwhile we do not even request for HIV test.”
Mr Hotor was speaking at a stakeholder meeting organized by the FDA to school owners of food processing industries in the Bolgatanga Municipality on the need to prepare food under hygienic and healthy conditions for public consumption, and to take the safety and precautionary measures on what they do seriously.
He said the initiative was part of the FDA’s mandate of ensuring public health and safety of consumers through regulations of all foods, drugs, cosmetics, chemical substances, medical devices locally manufactured, imported, sold or used.
Mr Hotor urged them to desist from lobbying with laboratory technicians to give them false reports, because such acts would destroy their businesses and cause health problems to consumers of their products.
He said electrical bulbs at production areas should be shatter proof, and explained that exposed bulbs could explode and deposit particles into foods being processed which could cause harm to consumers, “when the bulbs are covered, and when they explode, the cover will hold the pieces and therefore contamination would be avoided.”
“As the FDA, we are always ready to guide and direct our customers and clients to ensure that the food, drugs or whatever they are putting on the market is safe, consumable and wholesome”.
He advised members of the public, especially “Our customers and our clients should not be scared of us, they should just approach us and we would gladly help them to regularize their operations appropriately,” he said.
Mr Hotor said the well-being of members of the public is the priority of the FDA, and entreated citizens “to blow the whistle” if they had information about production of unwholesome products for public consumption, and gave the assurance that the identity of informants would not be disclosed.
Madam Joyce Agana, the Regional Regulatory Officer at the Food Safety and Management Unit of the FDA, said many food handlers have expired medical certificates, while others did not have certificates at all, adding that handlers were usually not properly dressed with aprons and head gears.
She said ceilings and windows of some food preparation areas in the municipality were often engulfed with cobwebs, and “fridges used for cold storage are not compartmentalized to avoid cross contamination.”
Madam Agana said many food handlers also used non-food grade soap in their pantries with poor drainage systems, many kitchens were dirty and not enclosed and this exposed food to dust, while some food handlers put on jewelry while serving food to clients.