GHANA – In cooperation with the Custom Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Ghana Standard Authority, and the Volta Regional Office of the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) have seized rice imported from India suspected to be contaminated with lead.

In a media briefing, Mr. Gordon Akurugu, the Volta Regional Head of the FDA, stated that 22 bags of Simba rice were detained as a result of the Authority’s increased surveillance efforts.

This was in response to an alert issued by the Ministry of National Security on May 16, 2022 after tests by the Nigerian Customs Authority found 1,000 samples to be laden with lead residues.

Further research and questioning of the dealers involved, according to Mr. Akurugu, revealed that the allegedly counterfeit rice was being sold in Togo for a very low price, which was a sign that Ghana was the next target.

He disclosed that an alert had been sent to the neighbouring borders and the patrol teams to keep a close watch to prevent the rice from penetrating into the country due to its food safety implications on the citizens.

He applauded the Ghana Immigration Service, National Narcotic Commission, National Security, Military Intelligence, National Intelligence Bureau, National Security, and Customs Division of the GRA for their effective cooperation and alertness in ensuring public safety.

Mr. Akurugu further revealed that during October 4 and 5, 2022, his organization inspected the market for two brands of frozen poultry sausage linked to a listeriosis epidemic in Italy at various stores and cold storage facilities in the Region.

“The activity was necessitated following an FSN alert that all AIA Wudy and Pavo brands of frozen poultry sausage with dates until November 30, 2022, were affected,” he said.

Mr. Akurugu said the facilities visited were inspected and records of them were also reviewed to ascertain the delivery or purchase of the implicated product.

“Four cartons and 27 packs of frozen Pavo Frankfurt IL Wurstel DI Pollo E Tarchino Congelato with expiry date November were detained,” he said.

He claimed that while the exercise did not prove the existence of AIA Wudy Sausage on the market, it did prove the existence of the Pavo brand. He added that additional research was being conducted to identify the manufacturer of the accused product.

Mr. Akurugu emphasized that the public’s health was their first priority and advised the public to be cautious about their consumption habits, particularly during this festive season.

The FDA had stepped up its surveillance throughout the holiday season to stem the flood of unwholesome products entering the market.

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