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Business News Fri, 4 Dec 2015

GSA schools journalists on Int’l Food Standards

The Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) says current information or data on pesticide residue in Ghana is not too good, compromising the health safety of the people as they consume various farm produce, especially fruits and vegetables.

A Food Safety expert of the GSA who disclosed this at a training workshop said there is the need for government to commission the research institution to undertake a study to investigate the levels of contaminants in food to know “whether what we are consuming is safe”.

“Such a study will also give us a national data for Ghana to use at international levels,” Mr John Oppong-Otoo, CODEX Contact Point Manager at a GSA, said in Accra.

Addressing journalists at a Codex media training workshop in Accra, Mr Oppong-Otoo said it is important to check and know the exposure contaminants in food, especially in vegetables, to help determine risk management options needed to control or minimize food hazards.

The training was held for media personnel in Accra to educate them on the Codex Alimentarius, which means a collection of international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice that contribute to the safety, quality and fairness in the international food trade.

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The Codex Alimentarius (Italian word meaning, Food Code) Commission (CAC) was established in 1963 by FAO and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme through its subsidiary committee.

The main purpose of the programme is to help protect the health of consumers, ensure fair trade practices in the food trade and promote coordination of all food standard work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organisations.

Ghana joined Codex in 1966 but became actively involved with Codex programmes since 2000, with Professor Sefa Dede, a Senior Academician, was made a Vice-chair of Codex from 2010 to 2014.

The National Codex Committee (NCC) in Ghana is made up of experts and representatives of various state organisations including GSA, Food and Drugs Authority, Ministries of Health, Food and Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Justice as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, CSIR Food Research Institute, and Consumers Association of Ghana.

Others include the Consumers Association of Ghana, Ghana Cocoa Board, Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Ghana and the WHO Country Office in Ghana.

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Mr Oppong-Otoo said Ghana has been one of the front runners on the regional block that champions activities on food safety, and that locally, the NCC advises government on the implications of various food standardization, food quality and safety issues.

The NCC also cooperates with the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme and to nominate delegates to attend Codex meetings as well as formulates national position on relevant subject matters and recommends action to government, among others.

He said issues of contaminants in foods, fats and oils, fish and fishery products, food addictives, food export and import and certification systems, fresh fruits and vegetables, food labeling and food hygiene all fall within the purview of the NCC which works with other subcommittees to improve the safety of such products.

Ms Pokua Appia-Kusi, Deputy Codex Contact Point Manager said Codex helps countries to access international markets while ensuring health and safety of people.

She called on the media to get involved in the issues of Codex and educate the public about its importance and the need to support state organs to safeguard lives.

Source: GNA