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No Ban On Palm Oil -- FDA
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The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has debunked assertions circulating in the media that the authority has placed a ban on the sale of palm oil across all markets in the country.

In an interview with the B&FT, James Lartey, Head of Communication, FDA, said the authority in issuing out the release was just cautioning the public and making them aware of palm oil that has been adulterated with Sudan IV -- a substance that causes cancer.

“FDA has not banned palm oil in the markets. We found out that there is some palm oil in the markets that contains Sudan IV, and Sudan IV is a dangerous substance that causes cancer. And the worrying situation we have here is that you cannot differentiate between the palm oil adulterated with Sudan IV and the one that does not have it.

“That is why the FDA is cautioning consumers that because of the difficulty in identifying it, it’s better to avoid consuming it now; or if they want to consume, they should buy it from a source they surely know is genuine. We have not banned it. We just want consumers to be aware and cautious about this product in the market,” he said.

He further commented on concerns that the authority rushed in publishing the news, and as such more investigation should have been conducted into the matter before the press release was issued.

One of such comments came from the CEO of IMANI Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe who said: “Before the FDA comes out with such alarmist announcements it should have done extra work to identity the sources of this unwholesome product, and gone further to list trusted and well-organised plantations and processing companies whose products consumers can rely on in the meantime so as not destroy the market for wholesome palm oil”.

However, Mr. Lartey has dismissed such allegations, saying the authority is entrusted with the responsibility of protecting consumer interest and keeping the information out of public knowledge would prove inimical to consumers.  

“This information should have come out some three months ago because that was the first time we realised it. We first thought about dealing with it without bringing it into the public domain, but we found out the product is rapidly spreading in the markets. If we treat it privately we will be causing more harm to the public than good. So it was not a hurried announcement from FDA; we thought about it thoroughly before we brought it out,” he said.

The FDA in a statement said it randomly took 50 palm oil samples and the results showed that 98 percent of the palm oil tested positive for Sudan IV dye. Following up, the FDA on Tuesday 20th October 2015, in collaboration with the Narcotics Division of the Ghana Police Service apprehended some dealers suspected to be involved in this practice and confiscated the products -- which were also analysed and found to contain Sudan III and Sudan IV dyes, leading to the arrest of 22 market women and a driver.

The markets are Mallam Market, MallamAtta Market, Dome Market, Dansoman Market, Agbogbloshie Market, Kaneshie Market, Tema Community 1 Market, Ashaiman Market, Madina Market and Makola No.2 Market

It is important to indicate that Sudan IV dye has potentially carcinogenic effects (category 2) according to the International Agency Research on cancer. Category 2 Carcinogenic substances have no tolerable daily intake values. Thus, no level of consumption of the dye can be said to be safe. Risk analysis of the health effects from consumption of the dye indicates that continuous exposure and high levels of Sudan Iv dye increases the risk of cancer.

Source: B&FT

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