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28.05.2004 General News

Twenty-thousand Africans die of food poisoning - WHO Report

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Sunyani, May 28, GNA - A total of 20,000 Africans died of food poisoning last year, Mr Kwasi Yeboah-Asuamah, an official of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) said in Sunyani on Tuesday, quoting the World Health Organisations' (WHO's) 2003 Report. Addressing a seminar organized by Rural Youth Service, a nongovernmental organisation, he said the figure was part of three million people, who died through food poisoning worldwide.

Participants at the seminar included selected fast food vendors, cold store operators and vegetable growers and sellers in the Sunyani Municipality.

Mr Yeboah-Asuamah explained that the deaths were attributed to certain factors including improper handling of pesticides, wrong methods of transporting harvested produce and bad storage facilities. He advised vegetable farmers to avoid using chemicals to spray their crops, especially in their embryonic stage, "because there would be nothing to undo the contamination of any produce that had taken place in its early stages".

The MOFA official asked vegetable growers to make regular contacts with agricultural officers for their advice on the use of insecticides. Dr David Opare, Sunyani Municipal Director of Ghana Health Service (GHS), said medical research had shown that food poisoning resulted from bad methods of food handling and advised the participants to be careful about how they went about food crops.

"Sunyani experienced three incidents of food poisoning two years ago but we were able to arrest the situation", he said and called on the participants to form associations in order to weed out the bad elements among them.

Ms Eunice Lomotey of the Nutrition Unit of the GHS educated the participants on personal hygiene and advised fast food sellers to avoid selling leftover foods and to preserve prepared foods well. Mr Kwabena Afena-Sam, Executive Coordinator of the NGO, said the organisation, in conjunction with other stakeholders found it necessary to organize the seminar in view of recent cases of food poisoning in the Municipality. 28 May 04