The FDA said in line with the Food Safety Emergency Response Plan, a joint investigation with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) commenced immediately after the incident came to their attention.
Its environmental assessment of food preparation revealed that unhygienic practices and food handling could have resulted in the contamination of the food, leading to the foodborne disease outbreak.
“Investigations revealed that a total of 53 people experienced symptoms of the foodborne disease after consuming waakye or plain rice and tomato stew from a food vendor called Yellow Sisi located at Bush Canteen, a suburb of Oyibi. So far one person has been reported dead, but the exact cause of death is yet to be confirmed,” said FDA.
The event was so serious that the nearest hospital, Valley View Hospital, reportedly had to turn away some patients in order to refer them to other hospitals because it was unable to serve everyone who was taken to the center for treatment.
The incidence was reported to the Daily Graphic by Dr. Esther Danquah of the Kpone Katamanso District Hospital, who also said that more inquiry was proceeding to elucidate more specifics.
“As of now, some other people are still visiting the hospital and, therefore, until all the necessary laboratory tests are complete, we cannot give specific data on the number of people who have been affected or whether it was indeed a case of food poisoning,” she said.
The FDA shut down the Yellow Sisi waakye restaurant until steps were taken to ensure that their operations were brought into compliance to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The regulatory body and the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies together inaugurated the Street Food Vending Scheme in November 2021.
The Scheme, which was developed under the FAO Healthy Street Food Incentive Project, aims at issuing compliant vendors with a Street Food Vending Permit.
According to FAO, globally, a projected 2.5 billion people depend on street foods daily because of their affordability and accessibility.
In urban Ghana, street food vending constitutes an increasingly popular informal business that provides an important source of income for many households and is dominated by women.
Despite their economic contribution to many households, studies have shown that some street food vendors lack a basic understanding of proper food-handling practices and concerns about poor hygiene and the spread of foodborne diseases continue to be the bane of this industry, leading to a continuous increase in reported cases of food poisoning.
Therefore, before using the services of their preferred restaurants, customers must insist on viewing these permits.
“We strongly urge street food vendors to apply for the Permit,” FDA said.