Research into food safety in urban cities begins

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A three-year research project into food safety in selected cities in the country has started in Accra.


The research is being undertaken simultaneously in major markets in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale.

The project, which is being replicated in South Africa and Uganda, is aimed at understanding what motivates people to make the choices that they make when selecting a particular food or vegetable in markets in urban centres.

Stakeholders’ meeting

As part of the project, lead researchers and financiers of the intervention yesterday organised a stakeholders’ meeting at the national level in Accra.

The meeting brought together participants from the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), the Ministry of Health, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), among others.

The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, Legon, and NOURICITY, a project aimed at investigating the structure and dynamics of urban food systems in Africa, are the lead researchers of the initiative, co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU).

Relevance

The immediate past Director of ISSER, Professor Felix A. Asante, told the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of the meeting that the research would help inform policy decisions in the country.

According to him, many non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as hypertension and diabetes, were triggered by the food people consumed, hence the need to inform people to make the right choices.

He revealed that out of the 11 predominant NCDs in the country, six were dietary related.

Prof. Asante said the research would also help establish the link among health, nutrition and agriculture to inform policy choices.

About project

The Project Co-ordinator of NOURICITY, Dr Nicolas Gerber, said the project was a collaboration of a consortium of 24 countries, made up of 12 each in Africa and Europe.

He said the €827,000 initiative would also establish how food was handled from the farm to the market.

It would also establish some of the factors which affected food safety and offer possible solutions, he noted.

Dr Gerber said through laboratory tests, the project would further verify how nutrition values were changed as food was transported, as well as how food quality was affected.

He said so far there was no credible data on food safety and quality in the value chain and, therefore, said the research in the three countries would gather such data.

He also stated that the project would rely on participatory research with stakeholders of the food systems in selected urban study sites in Ghana, South Africa and Uganda.

In particular, the project would describe the systemic drivers of food choices by mapping out formal and informal urban food sectors, their interactions and rural linkages and also track urban food sources and their characteristics, Dr Gerber added.

It would also examine individual drivers of food choices; that is, income, access to nutrition-related knowledge or food taste, habits and culture.

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