Foods sold at sprawling markets in Accra, have been found to have very poor nutritional quality, according to research by Food Safety Consultant, Dr. Mavis Owureku-Asare.
Dr. Owureku-Asare mentioned tomatoes, oranges, pineapples, garden eyes, cocoyam leaves (Kontomire) and also looked at proteins like shrimps as well as fish powder as sold at Agbogbloshie, Dome, Kaneshie, Makola and Okaishie markets.
She explained to Myjoyonline, markets have an impact on foods because of the effects of handling, storage and display of these foods.
Taking oranges as an example, she said the open display of the fruit in the sun and on the floor, considerably affects the Vitamin C content.
Vitamin C quickly breaks down in the heat and evaporates easily out of the fruit. “What is orange without Vitamin C,” she quizzed.
Dr. Owureku-Asare who is a Senior Research Scientist at The Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture e Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission said, cancer-fighting substances like lycopene and other antioxidants in tomatoes are easily being destroyed at these markets, a measure of market conditions across the country.
Dr. Mavis Owureku-Asare also observed, significant amounts of pesticide residue in some foods like cabbage, lettuce, okro, “kontomire”, maize and beans from misapplication of pesticides which have significant health implications.
Groundnut paste is mixed with powder made from dried cassava (Konkonte) while more than 98% of palm oil is adulterated with cancer-causing agents.
And shrimp as well as fish powder, was found to have been mixed with sawdust she said, describing the practice as food fraud.
The food scientist explained while poor nutritional quality through food adulteration is widely known, the response of state institutions have had a minimal impact on addressing what is becoming a culture in Ghana’s markets.
She called on government to roll out an army of food scientists to comb through markets and address the crisis of nutrition in Ghana’s markets.
The consultant wants to see a force and a commitment akin to the government effort to clamp down on illegal mining.
“We need a food police,” she stressed. Quality should be enforced along the marketing chain right from production till the food gets to our local markets, she added
She also called for support from Government to help Her Institute BNARI which has a Compost plant, producing organic fertilizer from food waste to expand and upscale its activities to be able to take on food waste from these market as a raw material for production of organic compost.
This is one way the BNARI can contribute to reducing the pile of food waste in our markets.