The Food and Drugs Board (FDB) on Wednesday expressed concern about conditions under which cold store operators store poultry, fish and turkey tails and described them as unacceptable and below standards.
The Board said the cold stores operated under unhygienic conditions, which were very dangerous and could cause health hazards to consumers.
Dr Mohammed M. Alfa, Head of the Animal products and Biosafety Department of FDB, speaking at the opening of a two-day training workshop for cold store operators in the Accra and Tema metropolis, said a review inspection report on compliance by cold storage facilities revealed that majority of the cold stores in Accra and Tema metropolis were non-compliant.
He said though importation of turkey tails had been banned in the country, people still found ways to smuggle them in for human consumption.
The training workshop under the theme; "Good Cold Storage Practices - The Key to the Safety of Frozen Animal Products" will afford operators to learn about good cold storage practices for improved service delivery and safe products.
Dr Alfa said the Board detected that most of the 150 cold stores visited operated under a poor sanitary conditions, poor arrangement of products, poor maintenance of packaging integrity, repackage under unhygienic conditions and use of inappropriate means to transport animal products.
He said most of the cold stores visited did not have temperature-monitoring devices to keep the products at the appropriate temperature and those which had were out of order.
"The environment under which we saw them repackaging fish and poultry products outside the refrigerator exposed the products to chemical and toxin contaminations harmful to human health.”
Dr Alfa noted that majority of the cold stores inspected did not have toilet facilities, which gave the impression that workers at the cold stores used toilet facilities elsewhere. "What is the guarantee that they will wash their hands with soap before holding the fish and other poultry products?"
He explained that FDB would soon come out with a prescription to ensure that cold store facilities had a standby functional generator with the right capacity prevent a break in the chain process whenever there was power outrage.
Mr John Odame-Darkwa, Deputy Chief Executive Office in-charge of Food, said cold storage was an important activity in the food chain continuum and the FDB would ensure that the desired attention was given to the high-risk activity in the food supply chain to safeguard public health and safety.
He said 15,000 cartons of unwholesome imported animal products worth about five million Ghana cedis was destroyed in Tema alone from January to October due to improper cold storage temperature.
"We do not take pride in destroying products, neither are we out to collapse businesses. We are here to support operators and to ensure that you maximise profit through good storage practices while ensuring public health and safety."
Mr Odame-Darkwa said the Board will continue dialoguing with operators until they were satisfied with compliance levels of operations.
He urged operators to, as part of what they would be learning, share experiences to gain maximum benefit of the two-day training.
Mrs Mansa Agra, a Deputy Chief Executive Officer in-charge of Food Safety and Nutrition, who chaired the function, called on them to always ensure that they destroyed animal products that would go bad.
She urged them to ensure that they had the appropriate storage facilities and correct temperature to freeze the products.