The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, on Wednesday, launched “Food Safety Guidelines” and directed Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to ensure the growth, supply and sale of safe foods in their jurisdictions.
The guidelines were also to support the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to implement its “Food Safety Policy” to promote healthy lifestyles.
The guidelines would be used by food producers, processors, transporters, marketers and exporters, and will help build the capacity of the various actors in the value chain while sensitising the public on the implementation of the by-laws on food safety.
The Ministry launched the guidelines in collaboration with the Ministries of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and Finance.
Mr Collins Ntim, the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, who launched the guidelines, said the purpose of the collaboration was to implement the “Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana Programme,” introduced in 2017 by Government to improve the production efficiencies of farmers and ultimately improve upon the local economy of communities.
He said the concept of food safety included the development of appropriate systems to protect food supply from microbial, chemical and physical hazards through production, harvesting, processing, storage, transportation and marketing activities.
Issues on food safety had taken centre stage in the world’s development due to the inherent danger in mishandling food items from the farm gate through markets to the table of consumers, he said.
Mr Ntim explained that farmers and processors in the production of food items invariably, at times used unorthodox agro-chemicals, which end up adulterating or contaminating the food or the farms.
“They inadvertently use inappropriate chemicals in the processing and storage processes at times. At other times too, the handling of the food tends to be unhygienic, which together result in various illnesses and contagious diseases for the consuming public,” Mr Ntim added.
The Deputy Minister said it was true that Food Safety Guidelines existed in different forms, however, they were scattered in bits and pieces in a variety of documents and were largely unregulated.
“It is, therefore, important to gather all existing information on food safety guidelines into one document to help streamline food safety regulation and enforcement so that we can guarantee the wholesomeness of foods for consumers, hence the need for the guidelines as currently developed,” he explained
Mrs Delese Mimi Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, who chaired the launch, said the Authority, was going to ensure that highest standards of food safety were maintained by all players in the value chain to promote a healthy lifestyle.
She said the FDA would offer technical support to environmental health officers to enable them to contribute to the achievement of a maximum benefit for all.
Mr Lawotty Tetteh, the Director of Human Resources Development, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said food security could not be guaranteed without food safety, adding that it increased income generation, reduced poverty, increased demand for quality trade, productivity and promoted national development.
Shifting the focus to the local food system, he said, it would give people the confidence to purchase local foods to enhance farmers income and enable the government to achieve its Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.
Madam Corey Huntington, the Deputy Director, High Commission of Canada in Ghana, said a robust food supply chain could help to prevent malnutrition and build stronger immune systems to resist COVID-19.
Locally produced foods, she said, were healthy and helped to prevent stunted growth among children.
Canada was supporting Ghana with an amount of $125 million to enable the country to modernise its agricultural sector to reduce poverty and inequality.
Madam Paulina Addy, the Director of Women in Agriculture Development, said the guidelines would promote safe food for consumption for optimal nutrition, health and overall development.
“Farms, markets and food processing sites are the heartbeat and sources of food that gets into our homes and they must be handled in the most hygienic way,” she added.
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