FDA Ghana intensifies surveillance activities in ports to assure product safety

GHANA – The Food and Drug Authority, Ghana, has begun putting in place strategic measures to control food products that enter the country, as a precautionary measure to the potential surge in imported consumables during the festive season.

The Head of the Imports and Exports Control Centre of the FDA, Emmanuel Yaw Kwarteng, has assured consumers that the authority is on top of its job when it comes to securing the safety of consumables that come through the ports of Ghana ahead of the Christmas season.

He said the forced compliance that comes with its strict implementation of the no “registration, no importation” policy, had yielded highly positive outcomes. Mr. Kwarteng revealed that “88% of all products consumers will have on the market are absolutely safe for consumption. About 10% of the rest are in quarantine pending FDA approval.

He stated that now, more than any other year, Ghanaians were sure to find more wholesome products adjudged by the FDA as safe and of the right quality.

He also disclosed that, ahead of the festive season, the authority had begun embarking on its inspection activities in all warehouses, in order to ensure that products there had neither expired nor were unwholesome.

Further, he indicated that such close monitoring had been extended to refrigerated food products at the ports pending clearance, to ensure that those that go bad were not cleared for public consumption.

Mr. Kwarteng also intimated that the trade facilitation and customs management tool being deployed at the ports of Ghana, International Customs Management System (ICUMS), has served as a major boost to FDA’s regulatory activities.

“on the ICUMS we are able to track every single import and we are able to have enough time to push through the registration process and finish even before customs clearance. In most ports, there are what we call the ways and means importers use to dodge FDA permits. We have deployed the system that is able to fish out these ways and means before they reach the market,” he said.

Unapproved import routes

He disclosed that these robust systems have led to over 100 importers receiving administrative penalties for trying to evade the system and it has proved to be very deterrent.

Mr. Kwarteng however indicated that the FDA is keen on ensuring that importers do not import FDA-regulated products for commercial purposes in the guise of “personal effects”.

“FDA has defined what it would accept as personal effect. For instance, personal effect of rice should be 10×5 kg or 5 cartons x 24 of tin fish and below but beyond that, you’re entering into commercial quantities. These are what we are seeing in the new shops. We have noticed a proliferation of these American brands. Those shops are competing favorably with the established supermarkets, and it would be unfair to leave that business to go unregulated,” he remarked.

In spite of all this, Mr. Kwarteng admitted that the historical problem of goods coming through unapproved routes along the country’s borders is a hurdle that has not been overcome yet.

He attributed this to the porous nature of Ghana’s border control mechanism, and weaker regulatory systems in neighboring countries, according to The Chronicles.

Nonetheless, he said the FDA would continue to tighten its collaborations with relevant state authorities to mitigate the problem in order to fully secure the country’s space from unregulated products.

“we are looking at possible solutions such as collaborating with the District Assemblies to establish offices in all the districts, and with the right resources, we would be closer to where these activities take place,” Mr. Kwarteng revealed.

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