The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), has started probing reports that some manufacturers of Palm Oil, have been soaking the products with a worm-like creature called, Millipedes to impact sweet taste and colour to the oil.
The investigations, follows a news item reported in the state-owned Mirror newspaper on Friday, February 5-11, 2016 captioned “Health Alert! Millipedes in our palm oil”.
The report which was based on a market survey conducted by some postgraduate students of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), indicated that some women who sell palm oil, admitted to soaking millipedes overnight in the oil to impact sweet taste and colour to the oil.
But FDA in a statement issued on Monday, said it considered the alleged soaking of millipedes in palm oil as unscientific and unacceptable practice and warned perpetrators to desist for such acts.
The statement issued by the Authority’s Chief Executive, Hudu Mogtari said that “the Authority has already initiated investigations into the alleged soaking of millipedes in palm oil and will use all appropriate mechanisms to ensure protection of Public Health and Safety of consumers”.
He encouraged “the general public to provide information on persons in any activities that are likely to endanger public health and safety with respect to FDA’s mandate through any of the following contact numbers;0244337235,0208115619,0244337235”.
The FDA, he mentioned could also be reached on its Toll Free line or text to the short code as follows; Toll Free line: 0800-151-000 (Free only on Vodafone and Airtel Networks) Short Code: 4015 (Free on all Networks excluding GLO).
The Mirror newspaper, had reported that a market survey conducted by postgraduate students of the Department of Food Science and Technology of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in four major markets in the country, has revealed a mass adulteration of most semi-processed foods.
According to the paper, during the survey, some women who sell palm oil in these markets admitted to soaking millipedes overnight in the oil. They say the insects secrete liquids that give a sweet taste and add colour to the oil.
Presenting the finding of the survey at the First National Conference on Food Fraud in Kumasi, the leader of the team, John-Louis Zaukuu, said most of the women who spoke to the team admitted to adding these items to the products to make them appealing to the consumers.
Although, the team was yet to know the health implication of these items on humans, he said the secretion produced by the millipedes had been found to cause allergies in humans. According to him, most of the food items surveyed did not contain what they promised and as such, constituted food fraud.
The survey, which was carried out at the Kumasi central market, one of the largest markets in the sub-region, Ayigya market in the Ashanti Region, Tamale and Techiman markets in the Northern and Brong Ahafo regions, respectively, also discovered that products such as powdered pepper, groundnut paste, fish powder, powdered tomato have been laced with items such as milled kola nuts, konkonte (cassava flour), avocado seeds, corn chaff and millipedes. Surprisingly, according to the survey, the powdered tomato contained no tomato at all but a local plant known as Ntoose-aba and food colour.
Most of the market women also admitted to adding cassava flour, salt and oil to the groundnut paste to increase the quantity and maximise profit, thereby committing food fraud. For instance, he said during the survey, the team found out that most of the powdered fish on the market contained corn chaff, condiment (Maggi cube) and immature fish.
He said, the practice was very pervasive and urged the regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ghana Standard Authority and all other stakeholders to ensure that the food items sold on the markets contained or were exactly what they promised in order to safeguard the health of the citizenry.