The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has cautioned the public, especially consumers of confectionery and frozen foods, to watch out for expired products on the market before, during and after the Christmas and New Year season.
The caution has become necessary following the confiscation of some unwholesome goods by the authority in some parts of the country recently.
To help prevent the sale of expired products on the market, the FDA has dispatched a team to conduct inspection at the supermarkets and other joints, while it has alerted its regional officers to inspect places where confectionery and other consumables are on sale.
In an interview in Accra yesterday, the Public Affairs Director of the FDA, Mr James Lartey, said the period before and during festivities such as Christmas was usually the time when some importers and business people took advantage of to sell expired or nearly expired confectionery and frozen items to the unsuspecting people.
He said although the FDA had increased its surveillance to check those illegal activities of some vendors, it could not cover every corner of the country.
Checking expiration date
Mr Lartey said the FDA had found it necessary to call on consumers to be wary of those illegal activities by checking every product they purchased to find its expiry date.
“If you notice it has been altered, please do report to the nearest FDA office for prompt action to be taken. We caution consumers to make sure that the products they purchase are labelled in English, with manufacturers’ names embossed on them.
“Most importantly, let us also make sure that the expiry date has not been tampered with. If it is nearing expiration, let them alert the FDA.
“We would like to encourage every individual to be alert. Do a little bit of due diligence when you are purchasing a product. Check the expiry date. If you cannot identify it yourself, ask someone to identify it for you. If you cannot read, ask the person to read same to you. If you find a dented product, do not buy it,” he added.
Checks by the Daily Graphic at the Tema Harbour last Thursday showed that many expired and unwholesome products had been destroyed recently.
Controls in Tema
The Head of Import and Export Control at the FDA stationed at the port, Mr Solomon Agampim, said the authority had destroyed many unwholesome products in the last few weeks.
“Only last month, we destroyed 547 cartons of frozen chicken imported by White Foods Limited,” he said.
In October this year, the authority seized and destroyed 266 cartons of frozen food imported by Whitestone Foods Limited.
The Ashanti Regional branch of the FDA last week impounded a container loaded with about 2,800 cartons of chicken at a private warehouse over suspicions that the product was unwholesome.
Earlier, the authority had destroyed some 4,500 cartons of unwholesome canned fish that was said to be on transit to Togo but had been diverted onto the Ghanaian market.
In October this year, the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) closed down two Indian companies in Accra following the discovery of expired and unregistered confectionery and pharmaceutical products in their warehouses.
In May this year, the FDA destroyed three tonnes of unwholesome food products in Koforidua.
The items included sardines, energy drinks, cosmetics, margarine, milk powder, tomato paste, biscuits, and canned and bottled drinks.
The items were confiscated by the authority after a market surveillance throughout the region.
The destruction was supervised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Environmental Health Unit and some security personnel at the Koforidua dumping site.
Mr Lartey said the FDA had intensified checks at the markets and the ports of entry to ensure that expired goods were prevented from flooding the markets ahead of the holidays.
“We want the exercise to send out warning signals to consumers and the public to know that there are many unsafe goods out there on the market,” he said.
In April this year, the FDA seized more than a tonne of expired goods, including medicines, beverages and baby foods, from various shops in Koforidua and some districts across the Eastern Region.
The items included antibiotics and analgesics, baby foods such as Aptamil and Cerelac, biscuits, energy drinks, Lucozade, margarine, dairy products, sanitary pads and many others and they were taken from pharmacy shops, supermarkets, filling station marts and the markets a few days to the Easter holidays.