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Health News of Monday, 27 January 2014


FDA warns of contaminated imported wheat flour

The Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) has warned of contaminated imported wheat flour on the Ghanaian market.

The Authority is therefore calling on the general public especially catering services and bakers to be watchful.

“We are currently on the heels of a major wheat flour importer located at Weija who imports mainly from Turkey", an official of the FDA told news men at the weekend.

According to the FDA, the Turkish company supplying the contaminated wheat flour is a subsidiary of one of the major suppliers of the product in the Middle East and the Asian countries.

The FDA further revealed that the suppliers use "strong chemicals" to make the wheat flour stay fit after it has been infested during transportation from Turkey to Ghana via sea.

“Some of these chemicals stay behind in the flour as ‘residual contamination’ and can be harmful for human consumption,” the FDA officials explained.

On what may have caused the infestation in transit, the FDA official noted although the flour may have been insect free when it was bagged, when it is placed in an environment that has got an insect population, the insect will be attracted to the clean flour.

The FDA further revealed that to prevent insect infestation of the flour, their investigations show that, the transporters use phospine gas in the form of tablet of magnesoum phospide or aluminium phospide that reacts with water vapor in the air to release phospine and CO2.

Phospine, the FDA said, is lethal and may cause internal bleeding among consumers.

In most countries, application of phosphine demands a special certification and must be done under strict conditions, the FDA added.

“The principle is if the minimum parts per million (ppm) of [phosphine] gas is not achieved, there is always a possibility that the insects will survive after the fumigation. Even worse, they can have resistance to the gas”, FDA officials explained.

In a related development, Mr Kinsley Nsiah-Poku FDA Principal Regulatory Officer and Head of Central Regional has also stated that it is an offence for people to dispose off unwholesome goods without permission from the Authority.

He said the FDA was mandated by law to safely dispose unregistered, expired, and fake products.

Mr Nsiah-Poku gave the warning when his outfit in collaboration with the Public Health Division of Cape Coast Metropolitan Assembly, destroyed some products seized from super markets, stores, and shops in Mankessim, Cape Coast, Swedru, Twifo-Praso, Kasoa, Winneba and Dunkwa-On-Offin during a market surveillance conducted by the Authority.

He said the exercise was to serve as a wake-up call to all manufacturers, importers, individual shop owners, cold-store owners and wholesalers who engage in the sale of expired, fake and unregistered goods to stop the practice.

Mr Nsiah-Poku said people whose unwholesome goods are seized are made to pay administrative charges ranging from GH¢ 200.00 to GH¢1,000.00.

The FDA is therefore calling on the media, security agencies and the general public to help in weeding out contaminated products from the markets.

The Authority also called on the business community especially importers to read the FDA regulations on importation of food products into the country before doing so.