More than 10 traders at the Malam Atta and Dome markets, both in Accra, have been arrested for allegedly adulterating palm oil for sale with a chemical substance commonly called Sudan IV dye.
The drums of palm oil have been seized to assist with investigations.
The dye is said to give the palm oil a deeper red colour for marketing purposes.
The arrests followed surveillance by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the police and other state agencies nationwide ahead of Christmas.
The Head of Communications and Public Education of the FDA, Mrs Rhoda Ewurabena Appiah, told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday that the FDA was determined to crack down on persons engaged in such activity because it amounted to food fraud.
“The FDA is on high alert and what is happening with the palm oil now is an emerging story but we will make sure we bust all the barons in this trade,” Mrs Appiah stressed.
She said the investigations would also help to establish how the suspects came by the dye, and that if the traders were found culpable, they could be slapped with administrative charges on their respective operations or be processed for court.
Mrs Appiah, however, urged consumers to be vigilant and look out for unwholesome products, including food items, at the various markets.
She explained that restaurants and other food joints were expected to provide food hygiene chemists in all their establishments and that the intensification of surveillance on expired and unwholesome products on the market had been activated in all the regions.
Mrs Appiah said some traders and business entities had introduced sales promotions at reduced prices during the festivities to attract customers.
She said the FDA had, therefore, increased its monitoring activities to safeguard the public from purchasing unwholesome products.
“We are also aware that some people will like to use this period to smuggle goods into the country without paying the appropriate duties and hide such goods under consignments that belong to multiple people, which eventually end up on the markets,” Mrs Appiah noted.
Mrs Appiah revealed that some new guidelines were being developed on the processes of clearing personal effects from the various ports.
She said, for instance, that there were guidelines on ensuring that individuals coming into the country with rice weighing five kilogrammes would not have more than 10 bags at a time.
She said the FDA would also conduct a comprehensive audit of all warehouses to ensure that they installed a pest control system and a fumigation plan among other systems.