The Ghana Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has introduced a traceability system for products in the country to help enhance food safety issues and safeguard the health and safety of the consuming public.
This follows a recent survey carried out by the Authority which reveals that palm oil adulteration has now reached 23%, an indication that the practice of adulterating palm oil with Sudan IV Dye is still ongoing.
The Authority developed the traceability concept in collaboration with Solidaridad West Africa and the Artisanal Palm Oil Millers and Outgrowers Association to identify culprits along the supply chain.
Despite the numerous public education and sensitization activities on the health implications of adding Sudan IV dye in foods especially palm oils, producers and Ghanaian traders continue to use the chemical as an enhancer in palm oil for consumers.
Speaking at a sensitization programme for Market Queens and Aggregators in Accra, Director of Industrial Support Services at the Food and Drugs Authority, Kofi Essel, noted that the move will also help protect the industry, and ensure authentic and healthy palm oil exportation for the global market.
“We had about 7% a few years back and we’ve seen a gradual increase again. This means that some people have resorted to the old ways so it has become very necessary for the FDA, to revamp its obligatory measures to make sure that we do not put any consumers at risk. Now, for the past two visits, or the first two visits that we had, we had a meeting with the millers, processors and the market queens because of the critical role that they play in the distribution chain. It is important that we also make them aware.
This is a very huge industry. Currently, 80% of all the palm oil that we consume in the country, is produced by these Artisanal producers. And so, it becomes very necessary that we address this issue of Sudan dying. It is also going to affect our exports of palm oil with care is not taken,” he said.
The Food Safety Division of the Food and Drugs Authority as part of its mandate to rid our food markets of adulterated food products (specifically palm oil), has been conducting research since August 2015 to assess the level of palm oil adulteration with Sudan IV dyes mainly in major markets in the Greater Accra Region.
In 2015, out of fifty (50) samples analyzed, forty-nine (49) samples representing 98% tested positive for Sudan dyes.
This led to the institution of various interventions to put a stop to the practice. Theses include the detention, sampling and testing of the consignment of palm oil from production sites for Sudan IV dyes and released only when it passed rigorous testing. Intensifying public education at the palm oil manufacturing sites and the market places.
Following these interventions, another sampling and testing of palm oil in 2019 indicated only 7% of palm oil suffered Sudan IV dye contamination.