Dr. Stephen K. Opuni, Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Board (FDB), has said he has been receiving threatening text messages and calls since he embarked on a crusade to ensure that unwholesome food and drugs are not brought into the country.
"People feel I am ruining their otherwise lucrative businesses by insisting that they meet the stringent quality and safety controls as enshrined in the FDB guidelines before their imported items are allowed onto the Ghanaian market," he told the Times in an interview Wednesday.
Dr Opuni said Ghanaians could not afford the experience of other African countries whose markets were flooded with cheap and unwholesome goods.
He said despite the threats, his office would remain focused on its mission to ensure that food and drugs on the Ghanaian market were safe and measured up to international quality and standards.
Dr. Opuni said he had not reported the matter to the police because he was not bothered about the threats.
Commenting on the loading of the unwholesome rice at the Tema Harbour, Dr Opuni said FDB's investigations had revealed that the shipping agent, Super Maritime, was the same company that brought unwholesome rice to the Takoradi Port some time ago.
The company, in December last year, imported 6,000 bags of weevil infested rice which it fumigated with a high concentrated Aluminium Phosphide (a 57 per cent poisonous compound) after which 2,000 tonnes was re-bagged and released on to the market.
Dr. Opuni said the company, on December 7,2009 acting as an agent for a South African, brought to the Tema Port, 11,466 tonnes of weevil-infested rice which had either been rejected by Sierra Leone and Guinea because it was unwholesome.
He said the ship, MV. Stefans, which brought the consignment, berthed at Tema Harbour where the Port Health Authority fumigated it.
Thereafter, 15,000 bags were discharged from the ship to Shed 8 during the Yuletide. So far, none of the government agencies at the port has accepted responsibility for the discharge of the rice.
"The FDB, in liaison with National Security, Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and other relevant agencies, then took immediate steps to prevent the release of the rice onto the market by quarantining the 15,000 bags in shed 8 at the Tema Port," he said.
Dr. Opuni said shortly after the rice had been quarantined, another agent, Scanship, came forward to claim that the rice was consigned to the company and was on transit to Burkina Faso.
"The company was told that if the rice was bad for Ghanaians, it was equally bad for the Burkinabes," he said.
Dr Opuni said the high level of weevil infestation, the foul odour, discolouration and the fact that some had caked were indication that the rice was bad.
To ensure that the consignment was not offloaded in any West African country for re-bagging and re-exported to Ghana, he said efforts were being made to alert neighbouring West African countries about the ship and its cargo.
Meanwhile, the 15,000 bags discharged during the Christmas holidays have been loaded onto the vessel, MV. Stefan is, to be re-exported by 2 pm yesterday instead of the original take-off scheduled for tomorrow.
Source: The Ghanaian Times/Ghana
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