The Food and Drugs Board has assured cold store operators that the Board does not take delight in destroying their products or collapsing their businesses, but rather supports them to maximize profit through good cold storage practices while ensuring public health and safety.
In a speech read on his behalf at the opening ceremony of a two-day training workshop for cold store operators in the Accra Metropolis, the Chief Executive Officer, E K Agyarko, said the workshop would afford operators the opportunity to learn about good cold storage practices for improved service delivery and safe products. Similar programmes had earlier been organized at various places.
According to him, "the success of the previous programmes has given the FDB enough motivation to maintain this campaign throughout the nation; and until the Board is satisfied with compliance levels of operators, will stop at nothing to continue to dialogue with them.'
Mr Agyarko pointed out that the need for safe animal product had become very important in view of the numerous food-borne illnesses associated with poor meat or fish handling practices, coupled with the fact that poverty and ignorance had made many consumers less discriminatory in the choice of when and where to buy.
He said animal products such as meat, poultry and fish, are highly perishable and as such should be properly handled to safeguard the quality, safety and acceptability of the products in addition to the health of consumers and the handlers.
He noted that the FDB was aware of this critical point in the food supply chain and was therefore, going all out to ensure that the desired attention was given to this high-risk activity in the food supply chain to safeguard public health and safety.
Statistics from the FDB indicates that just recently, several thousands of cartoons of unwholesome animal products were destroyed in Tema due to improper cold storage temperature regime which rendered the products unwholesome.
"Between January 2008, and now, close to 15,000 cartoons of imported unwholesome products have been destroyed at Tema alone. This translates to a loss of about GH¢4,500,000.00 worth of revenue', Agyarko disclosed.
Throwing more light on the situation, Mohammed Alfa, Head of the Animal Product and Bio-safety Department of the FDB, revealed that out of 150 cold storage facilities in the Accra-Tema Metropolis where inspections were carried out, only a few were found be adhering to good cold storage practices.
He said a cold storage facility should have good sanitation, well planned arrangement of products, good ventilation, and repackaging under hygienic conditions and with the permission of the FDB.
Other factors he said a good cold storage facility should comply with are adherence to strict personal hygiene and appropriate attire by staff, having in place a pest management mechanism, using medically certified personnel and good temperature monitoring devices.