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08.05.2008 Health

Contaminated Food Killed 90,692 In 2006

By Francis Asamoah Tuffuor - newtimesonline.com

THE Food and Drugs Board (FDB) Report of 2006 shows that 90,692 people died from food and personal hygiene-related illnesses in the country.

During the same period, an estimated 297,104 people were recorded as having reported at the various Out-Patients Departments of clinics and hospitals with food and hygiene-related cases.

John Odame-Dar-kwa, Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Food at the board, said this yesterday at a public education on food safety and hygiene at Chorkor, a suburb of Accra.

He said the situation is worrying and requires intensive education of all to help control it, saying that the high incidence of food-borne illnesses in the country is unacceptable.

He said that the treatment of food and personal hygiene-related diseases alone in 2006 cost the government GH¢594,208.00, and an approximately 594,279 productive days.

Mr Odame-Darkwa expressed the need for continuous education, particularly of traditional caterers who play crucial roles in the lives of people especially of low-income earners and the urban population.

He said that the services of food vendors benefit everybody, including international tourists, and can be located in every corner from high class residential areas to the remotest part of the country.

Mr Odame-Darkwa said most of the traditional caterers are females, often relatively poor, uneducated and therefore lack appreciation for safe food handling.

For instance, it is common to see fufu being pounded in the open or banku being prepared at street corners in open and near dirty drains, he said.

Mr Odame-Darkwa disclosed that 60,000 people are engaged in food vending in Accra alone, with an annual turnover of over GH¢100 million and a profit of GH¢24 million, equivalent to the average daily profit of GH¢1 per day per person.

He said if a community is to have the full benefit of street vending-food with minimal risks, the government’s intervention is required to ensure that the standard of safety for such foods is the best attainable in the context of the prevailing local condition.

'Because of the possibility of microbiological, chemical and physical contamination which could occur under the operative condition of this trade, efforts must be made to educate personnel involved in such trade,' Mr Odame-Darkwa said.

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