There is the need for the government of Ghana to impose a moratorium on the importation of particular food items from South Africa in the wake of the outbreak of Listeriosis in that country, General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) urged here on Friday.
Speaking to Xinhua via telephone, Edward Kareweh, General Secretary said the temporary ban on the specific food items from South Africa would give authorities the opportunity to ascertain and determine the level of danger posed by food items from that country and the way forward.
“Ghana and South Africa have very strong economic ties which feed into trade and investment relations and so you see a lot of imported food items from South Africa being sold in the shopping malls and patronized especially by the middle class,” Kareweh observed.
Ghana, according to Kareweh, whose organization is the largest advocacy group for agricultural workers in Ghana, therefore stands a high risk of being affected by any such mass food poisoning or infection from Sot Africa, one of Africa’s largest economies.
He therefore underscored the need for a temporary ban in order to assess the situation to enable government and other food safety institutions to assess the situation and institute measures that will prevent the infection being imported into Ghana.
Concerning the heightened alertness announced by government late Thursday, Kareweh commented that the decision by government was due to the economic implications of any ban on food imports from South Africa for the economies of the two countries.
“But any errors will result in dire consequences for the populace so we are of the view that a temporary ban is needed to assess the situation comprehensively in order to determine the easy forward,” he stressed.
Late Thursday, Minister for Health Kwaku Agyeman-Manu announced a heightened alertness by government and its institutions about food imports from South Africa, as a result of the outbreak of the Listerious infection.
The bacteria, which can contaminate dairy products, vegetable and fruits is caused by listeria monocytogenes.
“In view of the public health concern and to avoid a similar outbreak here in Ghana, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) is monitoring the situation and has increased surveillance on meat, dairy, vegetable and fruit products from South Africa to ensure that they are not contaminated,” the statement said.
“Once we are unable to do that by the time we will be checking the action, it will probably have been too late for us. Because some of the products might have found their way into our market and that will not be good for our population,” he warned.
The government agencies were in a meeting with the minister for health discussing the way forward on the alert issued late Thursday.
Meanwhile, authorities in Rwanda have urged Ghana to place a complete ban on food imports from South Africa, local media have reported.
The document, according to local media, urged the government to take the relevant steps to ban the importation of such food products from South Africa to stop a possible spread of the disease to other countries.