Poultry farmers in the Greater Accra Region have appealed to the government to expedite investigations into the bacteria-infested gizzard brought into the country and sanction the importers involved.
The appeal follows a revelation by officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) last week that they had intercepted a 40-footer container of salmonella-infested gizzard at the Tema Port after receiving a tip-off from authorities in Brazil, where the gizzard was imported from by two Ghanaian food import companies.
The importers, however, were able to clear three out of four of the containers ahead of the undercover work that threw light on their activities and succeeded in getting the products onto the market.
The Greater Accra Poultry Farmers Association (GAPFA), which made the call, has since 2019 advocated strict regulation on importation of poultry products and also campaigned for local consumption of poultry and for support from the government to empower local poultry farmers.
The President of GAPFA, Mr Michael Nyarko Ampem, in an interview, condemned the importation of the bacteria-infested gizzard and said the persons behind it must be brought to book since the health and safety of Ghanaians were at risk.
He reiterated the association’s call for the government to institute a regulated quota system that would limit about 80 per cent of poultry products imported into Ghana annually.
A well-structured quota system with market availability, he said, would encourage local poultry producers to fill the gap and produce enough poultry products to feed the public.
“If these gizzards were produced locally, it would have been easier for the authorities to trace the producers and demand accountability. It becomes difficult to trace the culprits of the imported product,” Mr Nyarko Ampem said.
No import permit
Confirming the incident, the Director of Veterinary Services at MoFA, Dr Kwabena Asiedu-Baah, said: “We traced and found out that indeed the importers had taken out three containers and sold the unwholesome products to the public.”
Dr Asiedu-Baah said it was unfortunate that the veterinary service was not included in the inspection of animal products imported into the country, even though they had the expertise to check all such products before they were allowed into the country.
He said consuming the infested gizzards could have dire consequences on human health, especially children and older persons above 60 years.
MoFA officials have indicated that the container found with the contaminated gizzard was part of four containers of unwholesome poultry products belonging to Perez Frozen Foods and Perfect God Enterprise.
The ministry also found that the companies allegedly imported the products without import permits and veterinary health certificates.
MoFA has since filed a complaint with the Bureau of National Investigations and made arrangements to destroy the remaining container with the unwholesome product.