GHANA – The Ghana Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has introduced a traceability system for palm oil in the country to help augment 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.

Even with 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, during the past two visits, 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,” he said.

He pointed out that 80% of the palm oil consumed in Ghana are produced by Artisanal producers and as such it was necessary to address the issue of Sudan dye adulteration.

Since 2015, the Food Safety Division of the Food and Drugs Authority as part of its mandate to rid the food markets of adulterated food products, 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.

During that year, 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 including rigorous sampling and testing followed by detention in case of nonconformance. FDA also intensified public education at the palm oil manufacturing sites and the market places.

Subsequent to these interventions, another sampling and testing of palm oil in 2019 indicated only 7% of palm oil suffered Sudan IV dye contamination.

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