Traders at the Ho Central Market have been asked to get their wares off the ground to promote the standards required in food safety.
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) gave the directive during a durbar in the Volta Region, held at the frontage of the market, to mark the World Food Safety Day, where stakeholders raised concerns over how food was displayed on the ground for sale.
Streets, lanes and alleys of the large market are taken over by hundreds of sellers, the majority of whom spread their wares on the bare floor, while pedestrians avoid trampling on them, especially on market days, which come every four days.
Mr Gorden Akurugu, the Volta Regional Head, FDA, said the practice subjected the food to extreme contamination and should be avoided.
The FDA and partners continued to battle groundnut and palm oil adulteration in the country, with eight entities currently being prosecuted in the Volta and Oti regions, thus, a collective responsibility should be promoted, he said.
He said the celebration and its theme for the year should help improve food quality in the country, citing recent spate of food contamination that had proven dire.
“We want to use this platform as FDA to make everyone know that life can be dangerous if we consume wrong food,” he said, appealing to market folk to lead the campaign for the best standards in direct consumables.
This year’s World Food Safety Day is being marked on the theme: “Food Standards, Saves Lives.” The staff of the FDA were joined by colleagues from the Ghana Standards Authority, the Environmental Health Department, and the Ho Municipal Assembly on a route march in the market vicinity to raise awareness while distributing flyers and souvenirs.
Madam Rejoice Norvihoho, the Market Queen, said the risk of food contamination was high and feared tuberculosis and the hepatitis disease spread in the tight-packed environment.
She said it was important to ensure market women did not display foodstuffs on the floor, as most were for direct consumption, and therefore appealed to the FDA and relevant authorities, including the Municipal Assembly, to help promote good standards.
The Market Queen expressed the hope that focus would also be placed on fast foods and drinks and production of sachet water adding that constant sensitisation of the market folk would help change attitudes.
Madam Jocelyn Adeline Egyakwa, the Head of Food Safety Coordination and Consumer Education Department, FDA, said all should be concerned about food safety, which included packaging, labelling and all other requirements.
She said adherence to good standards prevented food borne diseases, thus, the entire food chain, from farm to fork, must reflect quality standards.
The environmental health officers urged sellers to consider the health of others, and consumers to consider the environment and physical state of foodstuff before buying, whilst avoiding the consumption of expired or unwholesome foods.
Officials from the Ghana Standards Authority noted how a lot of processed or packaged food products on the market evaded licence and regulations, and said more support was required to rein them in.
Mr Divine Bosson, the Ho Municipal Chief Executive, who chaired the durbar, said the Assembly would continue to collaborate with stakeholders to check adulteration of food products and discourage ground display.
“As MCE, the Assembly will continue to ensure the food chain is hygienic. We will monitor the food chain from the farm to the kitchen,” he added.