Scores of Zongo women in the Ayawaso East municipality of the Greater Accra Region have been schooled on food safety measures by the Ministry of Inner-City and Zongo Development in collaboration with National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) as part of the Zongo Cuisine Promotion Programme underway in the region.
The Zongo Cuisine Promotion programme, is a flagship project of the Ministry; expected to equip traditional food vendors in the Zongo communities across the country with modern cooking skills that will ensure food safety, standardization and branding of Zongo foods such as Hausa Koko, Tuo Zaafi, Wakye among others for easy accessibility of the consumer.
Taking the scores of the food vendors through the process of food safety; Mr. Richard Odum Nyamuah, a facilitator for the programme dubbed: ''Capacity Building Workshop for Entrepreneurs of Zongo Cuisine'' explained that food safety entails taking steps in the preparation of the food in the right environment.
According to him, food safety comes with the cooking of the food, packaging among others to sustain the standard of the food.
He noted that personal hygiene is also key in ensuring food safety when it comes to selling food in these communities.
He cautioned them to avoid wearing of artificial nails when selling as its a carrier for the contaminating of prepared food during selling.
He said there are germ particles, chemicals and contamination with objects on food that cannot be seen with the naked eyes which makes food unsafe if it not properly prepared.
He stressed that people sell food for the following reasons: law, life, business, personal reputation and family reputation.
''Selling food affect the lives of many people in the society so, safety measures must be observed when selling food for the public'' he stressed.
He said when the issue of unsafe food or food poison happens, it affects the person or family reputations of the sellers in the society.
He told the women that selling bad food can destroy a business and this occurs if food safety measures are not observed when selling food.
He minces no words to say that many of the Cancer-related diseases being recorded in the country are as a result of some forms of chemicals found in food.
He mentioned the environment, raw ingredients, water, cooking utensil, selling utensil and storage conditions are the various contaminants of selling healthy food.
‘’One of the difficult things to do by food vendors is how to dispose off things that they do not need in their food environments’’ he said.
He warned them to be wary of the colour of their fishes when cooking to ensure safety adding that when the colour of fish changes it becomes a contaminant.
He advised them to always keep fish that has been cooked at the top front of the fridge and keep the fresh one in the freezer.
He added that the same thing relates to canned foods because all tin foods contain some form of acid that can become dangerous when it expires.
Speaking in an interview, one of the participants and operator of Mummy’s Pride Fast Food at Abavaana Junction, a suburb in Accra; Catherine Adu, noted that for the Ministry to sustain the programme, what is needed is sustainable education for food vendors in these Zongo communities.
According to her, the programme has afforded her the opportunity to learn how to improve upon her growing but unregistered business.
She said hitherto, she only cooks and never bothered about how the customer feels about her food but the training programme has afforded her opportunity to know that chasing the customer for feedback is important.
She said by so doing, this will sustain her business and satisfy the needs of the customer at the same time.
She explained that good food is the one that contains all the nutrients going by the five keys of cooking.