GTCA calls for comprehensive policy on food hygiene

By GNA
By GNA

5/31/2008 3:56:32 PM -

The Ghana Traditional Caterers Association (GTCA)
has called for a comprehensive policy on food hygiene to curb the current mishandling of prepared food which they described as dangerous and a threat
to public health.
The GTCA also attributed the situation to a combination of factors such
as gaps in the existing regulations and bye-laws, proliferation of street and mobile food vendors, lack of legislative mandate for the Association to check operations of non-members.
Other factors are, lack of formal training in the best practices in food preparation and handling, lack of self-compliance attitude among food vendors, as well as laxity in the enforcement of the bye-laws governing the sale of prepared street food within the metropolis.
Mr. Emmanuel Asamoah Ansong, Public Relation Officer of the GTCA in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on said a study conducted by health institutions in Ghana in 2002 revealed that about 2.3 million reported cases were food-borne diseases.
He referred to a survey conducted by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) between 1995 and 1996, indicating that 94 per cent of street food vendors were uneducated and unskilled women of low income with no formal training in proper handling of food.
Mr. Ansong said food vendors also lack infrastructure such as potable water, inefficient and unreliable waste disposal system, unhygienic eating places and potable water.
The survey also indicated that food vendors were unaware of the possible sources of food contamination, resulting from raw material acquisition, food preparation, storage during sale and final delivery to the consumer.
Mr. Ansong said the World Health Organization (WHO) supported the above identified problems in 2002 on safe food standards on persistent diarrhoea in Ghana, which also established that about 60 per cent of 951 mothers in urban slums of Accra supplemented their children’s diet with street food.
He expressed concern that the combined effect of the identified problems was the increasing loss of confidence in local food prepared and sold by street vendors which exposed consumers to various diseases.
He said, the situation, if allowed unchecked can have serious adverse effects on the sustainability of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) since most of these diseases, such as diarrhoea and cholera were related to food contamination.
Mr. Ansong said the GTCA with the support of Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC) was advocating for a comprehensive national policy in food hygiene as well as the revise of the current regulations and bye-laws, preparation and sale of food to adequately reflect current needs and the desire to streamline the operations of traditional caterers.