The Food and Drug Integrity Research group at the University of Cape Coast has commended the Food and Drugs Authority for closing down the meat section at a Shoprite outlet.
The closure of the meat section of the shop at the Accra Mall comes after investigations revealed that the company thaws imported frozen chicken and labelled them as locally produced fresh chicken for sale.
Speaking in an Interview with Joynews, the Head of the group, Dr Ernest Teye indicated even though they commend the FDA for the swift action that has been taken, they want government to equip the Authority with modern rapid detection techniques at regional levels for effective and tight monitoring system.
They also want the FDA to partner the research groups in the universities like UCC’s Food and Drug Integrity Research group to develop rapid non-destructive detection techniques via Artificial intelligence for on the spot post-market surveillance.
He stated, “If a food fraudster sees the chance for, and has the motivation to commit food fraud, then the porous system or absence of suitable control measures presents an opportunity to advance food fraud.”
According to Dr Teye, the control system they are advocating should include food fraud monitoring and verification tool or procedures, whistleblowing guidelines and protection, legal enforcement and consumer education.
He insisted food fraud does not happen easily if there is no monetary motivation / financial benefit and other behavioural factors.
“For instance, a high-value food (in this case local poultry) can be substituted or by adding a cheaper one (in the case of imported meat) but sold at the same price, and this could offer huge profit margin that motivates the fraudsters,” he stressed.
He enumerated some of the topmost foods at risk to fraud: Olive oil, fish & meat, organic foods, milk, grains, honey, coffee & tea, spices (saffron and chili powder), wine, fruit juices, tomato paste and in our case in west Africa Palm oil.
Dr. Ernest Teye further added, food was under silent attack from fraudsters engaging in what is termed Food fraud. The attack, he reiterates, is a silent killer of SDG’S 1 to 3 (no poverty, zero hunger, good health & well-being) in developing countries.
“Food Fraud is becoming more and more sophisticated and increasingly difficult to overcome but there are many ways through research and technology to deal with them,” he articulated.
Source: Richard Kwadwo Nyarko