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27.08.2004 General News

Veracity of contamination of oil palm being investigated

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Accra, Aug. 27, GNA- The Ministry of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiative (PSI) said on Friday that export-related regulatory agencies were investigating reports of the contamination of palm oil exports to UK.

The agencies are the Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC), Ghana Standards Board (GSB) and the Ghana Food and Drugs Board (GFDB).

A statement signed by the sector Minister, Mr Alan Kyerematen, said the Ministry had noted with concern a "rapid alert warning report from the UK Foods Standards Agency in respect of palm oil exports from Ghana to the UK suspected to be contaminated by Sudan IV dye which is dangerous to the health".

The story had also received negative banner headlines commentary in some local dailies, the statement noted.

"For avoidance of doubt, the general public is hereby being informed that palm oil export from Ghana into UK or any part of the world has not been banned," it said.

With respect to the production and sale of palm oil on the local market, the statement said the GSB and the GFDB were currently conducting investigations to establish whether any palm oil put up for sale on the domestic market had been contaminated or adulterated. "Pending the conclusion of the investigations, local producers and exporters of palm oil who might have been involved in the application of the Sudan IV dye in the production of palm oil were being advised to desist from the unauthorised and illegal practice forthwith."

The statement reminded producers and exporters of palm oil that under Ghana's existing food standards established by the GSB, Sudan IV dye was not a permitted food colour addictive since it represented a serious health hazard if consumed in sufficient quantities.

In order to protect the health of consumers of Ghana's palm oil in both domestic and overseas markets, the Ghana Standards Board, FDB and Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) have been directed to intensify their screening methods to identify and eliminate such products.

"Any one found contravening our national laws on food safety and standards would be made to face the full rigours of the laws of Ghana. Likewise, anyone found to have exported any product to the UK or any part of the world, including but not limited to palm oil, which is contaminated with a known banned substance, shall be liable to prosecution under the laws of the importing country," the statement said