By Gifty Arthur
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), has assured Ghanaians to eat their loved Palm Oil with confidence, as the product in the various markets, has been tested to be safe from the poisonous Sudan IV dye.
The news comes, months after the Authority, sounded the alarm that palm oil in markets across the country, were unwholesome for consumption.
Meanwhile, some twenty-two (22) women traders, whose consignments were found to contain Sudan IV dye during the swoop, are being processed for court by the Narcotics Division of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service.
At a press briefing yesterday in Accra, the FDA said, positive results have been achieved from steps, put in place to ensure the safety of the public, hence this assurance ahead of the Christmas festivities.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Authority, Odame Darkwa said, “FDA wishes to assure the Ghanaian Public that the steps taken by the FDA, have yielded results in curbing the unlawful practice”.
Two months ago, the FDA, broke news of adulterated palm oil in the various markets, sending shivers down the spines of many Ghanaians who consumed food made from palm oil.
The announcement which almost collapsed the palm oil business, as many Ghanaians declined to eat their favourite banku with okro stew, kontomire stew, beans and gari, etc for fear of consuming the poisonous chemical, is used for the making of textiles.
The FDA, had said that during it first swoop at Agbogbloshie market in Accra, all the consignments that were seized from trucks which brought the oil early in the morning from the villages, contained the Sudan IV dye. Others that were seized from markets such as Malam, Madina, were no different as they were equally contaminated.
But allaying the fears of many Ghanaians ahead of the Christmas festivities, Mr. Darkwa, said six steps, including monitoring of the local markets to rid it of adulterated palm oil were intensified.
Several truckloads of palm oil, suspected to be adulterated were ambushed in dawn swoops with the Narcotics Division of the CID confiscating them.
Massive stakeholder meetings were also held with drivers and palm oil sellers in the major markets within Accra to encourage them to volunteer information and surrender any palm oil containing Sudan IV for destruction.
Following the huge endorsement by the market women, some 500 of them at Agbogbloshie, Odorna, Madina and Makola markets, who are members of Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana, were registered and provided with tags to help the public identify them as dealers with genuine product.
He was, however, quick to mention that, the measure is voluntary, and so in the event that others are not seen with the tag, it did not mean that they are not selling genuine palm oil. He said the registration and issuance of the tags, would be extended to other markets across the country from next year.
“The tags contain information such as name, serial number, market and the picture of the seller. This information together with the supplier/distributor and national identification number of the seller, have been captured in a database to facilitate traceability of any adulterated palm oil found on the Ghanaian markets.
Each registered seller is, therefore, to wear the tag as an indication of self-compliance in the sale of non-adulterated palm oil”. The registration process is ongoing and will be extended to the other regions next year”, he said.
Having conducted countless meetings, education and sensitizations of the market women and queens, the FDA said it “took samples from all the markets in Accra-Tema metropolis and re-tested them for Sudan IV dye.
The results, according to the FDA, indicated that 90 percent of the palm oil on the markets was free of Sudan dye. This is an indication that, the Sudan dye adulteration practices in our market is under control.
The 10 percent was probably due to unintentional adulteration with Sudan dyes as the drums used by the palm oil sellers are reused without washing”.
He said, though the measure has yielded very positive results, the FDA will not renege on it mandate, but will continue to monitor the situation and bring any offender to book.
He was happy that for once, Ghanaians were ever ready to volunteer information and prepared to surrender all their products for testing to ascertain their wholesomeness.
“For once, Ghanaians have stood up with the FDA. They did not say we are destroying the economy or anything”, he acknowledged.
Mr. Darkwa intimated that, palm oil, should never be mixed with anything as it is against the laws of Ghana.
Two market women from the Odorna market, Regina Aku Addo, and Beatrice Awusi, decried how the news affected their business.
According to them, “since the information went out customers refrained from buying from us and our business is almost collapsed. We are hopeful that with the announcement by the FDA today, business from now will pick up”.
While, apologizing for their action, the two women, pleaded with anyone who has been affected to rescind their decision not to patronize palm oil from the market, as they have learnt from the mistake.
Following these and many others,
He mentioned some of the steps as: monitoring of local markets to rid it of adulterated palm oil was intensified, stakeholders meetings, FDA sampled palm oil from 2nd cycle institutions nationwide etc.