The public have been cautioned against processing food items on open markets after purchase in order to reduce exposure to life-threatening diseases.
The Accra Metropolitan Director of Public Health, Florence Kuukyi, said the practice often exposed foodstuffs to harmful bacteria and micro-organisms which posed danger to one’s health.
“We are facing pandemics of non-communicable diseases and most are as a result of the food we consume from our markets. We discourage people from asking traders to chop and grind foodstuffs like okro, kontomire and pepper, because they are difficult to treat when you get home and you are likely to use them in that state for cooking.
“The grater, knives and cloths tied to the fingers of market women to process these food items are in themselves a whole ecosystem of micro-organisms that could be harmful to one’s health and people must desist from these practices so we can live healthily,” she advised.
Mrs Kuukyi was speaking with the Ghanaian Times at a stakeholder validation workshop on a study on “Partnerships for healthy diets and nutrition in urban African Food systems-evidence and strategies (NOURICITY)”.
The two-year research project aims at understanding the food consumption choices of the urban population and how these choices impact on the health of individuals and households.
Spearheaded by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana in collaboration with the Centre for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany, the study is being conducted in Ghana, Uganda and South Africa.
The Metropolitan Public Health Director said in line with the new “Food Safety Guidelines” launched by the Ministry of Local Government Decentralisation and Rural Development (MLGDRD) last year, the AMA was set to review its by-laws to ensure food safety within the metropolis.
“We are going to ensure that the food value chain is protected from microbial, chemical and physical hazards so right from the farms, the transportation of food items, market to the consumer, we are going to monitor every stage so that when there is an outbreak at any point we can trace where it is coming from and break the chain,” she noted.
Additionally, Mrs Kuukyi said the reviewed by-laws would also intensify promoting sanitary conditions, effective waste management systems and health-seeking behaviors within the communities, markets and among citizens.
She urged that as immediately as possible, all markets across the country are linked to reliable water sources to help control the risk of disease outbreaks.
Water is critical to ensuring food safety and as soon as possible we should have a policy in place that ensures that all markets in the country have constant water supply to reduce the risks of diseases contracted from these areas,” she urged.
Professor Felix Asante, the Principal Investigator on the “NOURICITY Project” and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Development (ORID) at the University of Ghana (UG) expressed the need for clear definition of the mandates of policymaking and regulatory institutions within the food safety value chain to promote health and well-being of the populace.
He said the situation where roles of monitoring and regulatory agencies overlapped made it difficult to ensure that the right thing was done.
“We should have a one-stop organisation where all procedures necessary in ensuring food safety are enforced to sustain life and promote good health,” he stated.