Food scientists at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) say the recent revelation about food adulteration is not restricted to palm oil.
The phenomenon, described by scientists, as Food Fraud, covers other food items on the market which contain unapproved substances.
Studies, according to the scientists, have confirmed groundnut paste, fish, pepper and tomatoes powder are among other food items and process products whose composition have been compromised.
Powder pepper for instance, the research indicates producers add dried cola nut, pear seeds to gain better reddish colour.
In a statement, the scientists note, “there are no real tomatoes in the tomato powder; they use what they call ‘ntos aba’ (a plant we are still tracing it), they mill, add food colour and maize chuff”.
For Fish powder, it revealed that low grade fish is used we realized they use low grade fish and condiments like Maggie so it will taste better.
Food technologist, Dr. Faustina Dufie Wireko-Manu says these are not healthy especially when one cannot tell the quantity of these foreign materials being added.
“The issue is that most of these products are not labeled, some of them have not passed certification but are on the market”, she said.
Media discussion in the last few weeks has been dominated by issues about cancer-causing Sudan IV dye in palm oil on the market.
Food and Drugs Authority has since been inspecting and impounding such sellers of the products across the country to avoid widespread health implications.
Despite the FDA effort, there are concerns about how consumers can detect adulterated products on the market.
Food Chemist, Dr. Jacob Agbernohevi, says the department is currently researching into ways to address such concern, especially, about palm oil.
“Like the case of palm oil that is difficult to know which is either adulterated or not, we can only have a quick test in place for people to know this”, he revealed.
“As scientists, we are working along with other bodies to see how best to come out with methods to find a quick rapid detection techniques”.
According to the scientists, though some of the adulterants are not as harmful as the case with SUDAN IV, there is the need for quick solution.
Meanwhile, the Department of Food Science and Technology is partnering a consultancy firm, LItfham, to organize a conference on the subject.
The event slated for January, 2016, will be the first ever international conference on food fraud.
Dr. Wireko-Manu explains it is the best way to tackle what she says has become a canker.
“Based on the findings of the work that we did, we realized that it is indeed a reality and we don’t want it to go beyond its limit because of the negative implications to our health,” she revealed.
The aim of the conference is to create awareness of food fraud and find pragmatic measures to address the issues.
She warns that, “Ones you eat food in Ghana you have eaten something that you are not supposed to eat”, so there is need for multi-disciplinary approach to addressing the menace.