Chop bars and hygienic standardsHow far should they conform?
When and how did the term “chop bar” originate to denote a public eating place as distinct from “restaurant”? How could Ghana have developed without chop bars? They have come to occupy a special niche in Ghana's food and nutrition culture.
There are some dishes that have the chop bar taste and can never be replicated at home. The best of “Apnkye nkra kra”, that is goat light soup and fufu can only be had from a chop bar. But chop bars have also not always been the most hygienic places to eat, though they cater for all the social rungs of the society. Should they be regulated to conform to certain “hygienic standards” or be left just how they are, especially since there is no evidence of a chop bar spread epidemic?
Last week Ms. Adeline Boateng, Quality Assurance Manager of the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB) called on the public to patronise only clean and hygienic restaurants, chop bars and other public eating places.
Ms Boateng, was speaking in Accra at an advocacy seminar on Food and Hygiene Policy. She stressed the need for legislation to regulate the operation of street food vendors. It was obligatory for everyone, she said, including food handlers to ensure the compliance of food safety practices.
She called for more coordination between local government authorities and food safety standards and regulatory bodies for clear-cut guidelines to regulate the operations of food vendors.
Ms Boateng also stressed the importance of an effective training and educational programme for food vendors to ensure a high sense of professionalism in the preparation and serving of food for public consumption.
She identified inadequate personnel and logistics as the major constraints militating against the enforcement and monitoring of relevant regulations.
Mrs. Prudence Asamoah-Bonti, Senior Scientific Officer of the Ghana Standard Board (GSB) advocated for an effective food management standard to ensure that food vendors sold safe food to the public, and “it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure that food meant for consumption is not contaminated.”
She said GSB had adopted a standard on food safety management from the farmer to the home to ensure public health and safety.
The Executive Director of the Society for Managing Initiative and Leadership Enhancement (SMILE), Mr. Paul Oduro Frimpong, also appealed to consumer protection groups to be more proactive to remedy the current unhealthy practices associated with the preparation and sale of street food.
He called for more commitment from stakeholders to ensure compliance of the regulatory code and standard on the sale of street food.
There was the need for a comprehensive policy as well as identification of visible vendor compliances and regular extensive hygiene education for street vendors, Mr. Frimpong stated.
Mr. Ebenezer Quaye, Chief Environmental Officer in-charge of food and hygiene of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) urged the government to strengthen the capacity of monitoring institutions to effectively execute their mandate.
The seminar, which drew participants from the Ghana Traditional Caterers Association, Food and Drugs Board, GSB, GTB, Ghana Federation of Tourist Associations and the AMA, was funded by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC).