Ghana has joined the rest of the world in commemorating 2021 World Food Safety Day which aims to draw attention to food borne risks and encourage the practice of food safety standards to help prevent, detect and manage food borne diseases
The day was celebrated in Accra under the theme: ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthy Tomorrow’
Present at the occasion were the Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari – chief director of Ministry of Health, Delese A. A. Darko – CEO of Food and Drugs Authority, Dr Francis Kasolo – WHO Ghana Country representative, representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme among other virtual participants.
The Minister for Health, Hon Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, lauded the collaborative effort between the Food and Agriculture Organization and the FDA in organising the event, and said he was hopeful that the fruitful discussions would leave participants challenged to do their part to ensure adherence to food safety standards.
Delese A. Darko, CEO of the Food and Drugs Authority, stated that, the COVID-19 pandemic had made it a lot more compelling for even stricter adherence to food safety standards to help boost the immune system and prevent disease transmission. The chosen theme for this year supports the theory that production and consumption of safe food benefits everyone and highlighted some of the areas of benefit as: Safe preservation and storage of food, Prevention of food borne diseases, Being a major factor in food security, protection of the population’s health, Economic prosperity and sustainable development.
Darko further shed light on some of the works initiated by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to ensure that food safety remained a priority for governance and the country in general. These include: continuous public education in schools, markets and other public places, training workshops for food manufacturers, food service establishment operators and street food vendors, facility inspections to bring manufacturers, and food handlers into compliance with good manufacturing and good hygiene practices as well as the introduction of the Progressive License Scheme (PLS) to bring particularly local micro and small scale food manufactures in compliance with food safety requirements.
Dr Francis Kasolo, the WHO country representative for Ghana, in his remarks commended the Food and Drugs Authority and partners for marking the day annually since its launch in 2019. He said according to World Health Organization global estimation, 600 million people, that is 1 in 10 people, fall ill while 420,000 died annually as a result of consuming contaminated food stuff. “Incidentally the African Continent contributes the highest number of cases and deaths with, more than 91 million people falling ill from consuming contaminated food and approximately 137,000 people dying every year” he added.
Dr Kasolo also highlighted a World Bank report of 2018, which estimated a total loss of US$110bn in low and middle income countries due to conditions related to foodborne diseases. He therefore re-echoed the need to institute preventive measures for detection of foodborne risks along the food chain. This, he said would help avert the huge economic losses low and middle-income countries suffer due to conditions related to foodborne diseases.