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Madam Maria Aba Lovelace Johnson

Consumer Protection Is a Shared Responsibility – Chief Regulatory Officer

Consumers must be proactive and conscious of what they consume as a step towards preventing, patronizing and consuming contaminated foods, this is according to Madam Maria Aba Lovelace Johnson, Chief Regulatory Officer and Head of the Food Enforcement Department at the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), maintaining that this is a collective responsibility.

Madam Maria Aba Lovelace Johnson said though the aim of the Food and Drugs Authority is to ensure that people are protected from eating contaminated foods and taking unwholesome drugs and household chemical substances, consumers equally owe themselves the responsibility of ensuring that they adopt precautionary measures to safeguard themselves against consuming contaminated products.

Ghana’s Cabinet has already passed the Consumer Protection Law for the implementation of policies for effective consumer protection.

The establishment of the Consumer Protection Authority is one of the main requirements of the new law to enable Government to adequately oversee all issues relating to consumer protection.

Consumer protection is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers, as well as fair trade competition and accurate information in the market place.

The laws are designed to prevent the businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors. They may also provide additional protection for those most vulnerable in society such as women and children.

She said the above which constitute consumer protection is in direct correlation with the mandate of the FDA to ensure the wholesomeness of consumable products.

“Consumer protection is the responsibilities and a mandate given us by the government to see to it that foods are safe for consumption and will not cause sickness,” she alluded.

The Chief Regulatory Officer was hopeful that these mandates, if well discharged could serve as the necessary respite for consumers who are the last patrons of these products.

“Consumer protection should be effective in the interest of consumers because they are the last people to buy the products,” Madam Maria Aba underscored. “Consumers must check the packaging of the product and also check the name of the product which is the name prescribed by law or the description of the product or its customary name.”

Enumerating further, she said consumers must be able to see the list of ingredients on the product packaging and also be wary of the ‘best before’ or expiry dates, use by dates, manufacture dates, and other information which must all be written boldly on the products.

“Before you buy any food product, it is very important to check for the manufacturing and expiring dates, the ingredients used for the food product, country of origin, net volume, name of producer, location, name prescribed by law to ensure that you buy the correct product devoid of contaminations, etc,” she asserted..

Consumers must also check the language written on the food products to determine if it is in English or a language they can read and understand, she added.

Other information Madam Maria Aba urged the public to look out for include the net weight for solid products or net volume if the product is liquid.

Consumers in urban Ghana are aware and concerned about current trends of food safety and foodborne disease challenges in the country. Therefore, efforts targeted at improving food safety and reducing incidences of foodborne diseases should not only focus on public awareness creation but should also design more comprehensive programmes to ensure the making of food safety rules and guidelines and enforcing compliance to facilitate availability and consumers’ choice of safe foods.

Source: Nana Ama Sarfo/www.ritefmonline.org/amasarfo297@gmail.com

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