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27.06.2005 Regional News

Management of informal food vendors' crucial - Agyarko

GNA

Accra, June 27, GNA - The management of informal food vendors in the country was crucial as it raised serious concerns regarding health practices and food safety, Mr Emmanuel Agyarko, Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Board, said on Monday. He said the range of people, who patronized street food, was not limited as it ranges from the Managing Director to the security man in an organization, hence the need for regulations for their activities.

Mr Agyarko was speaking at an international conference on street food vending that brought together participants from Zambia, Zimbabwe, India and Ghana. The conference has among its objectives to develop a systemic approach for management and control of informal food vending in the various countries.

Regulation on the activities of street food, he said; had been a major problem facing his outfit because of the historic background of street food vending. Citing examples, Mr Agyarko mentioned roasted plantain as one street food whose preparation had not changed over the years. "Virtually every family in Accra buys kenkey from the street, a lot more people enjoy waakye cooked by a street vendor more than one prepared in the house," he said

Mr Agarko noted that street-vended foods contributed to the socio-economic development of the country but said there were times that street food contained microbiological contamination, which was dangerous to health. There was the need to increase knowledge in food hygiene and for the establishment of structures to monitor and control street food vending, Mr Agyarko said.

Dr Paa Nii Johnson of the Food Research Institute, giving a presentation of street food activities in Ghana, revealed that low-income families spent about 40 per cent of their household budget on street food. According to a survey conducted in 2004, he said, 60,000 people engaged in the informal food-vending sector with an annual turnover of 100 million dollars. He said most food vendors' worked under unhygienic conditions and the Street Food Coalition in Ghana, an NGO, had been organising training programmes for food vendors. Trained Environmental Health Officers were also educating food vendors on the need for a hygienic environment, Dr Johnson said.

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