FDA Launches Progressive Licensing Scheme For Cottage And Small-Scale Food Processing Facilities
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has launched a Progressive Licensing Scheme for Cottage and Small-Scale sized Food Processors which is aimed at helping the local food industry grow to an extent where all grocery shops and supermarkets will be stocked with at least 60% of made in Ghana food products.
According to FDA, the Progressive Licensing Scheme (PLS) will have pink, yellow and green as its three stages of licensing.
Speaking at a virtual engagement to launch the Progressive Licensing Scheme for Small Scale/Cottage Food Processors in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) of FDA, Delese Mimi Darko said “Mr. Chairman, the food processing industry in Ghana ranges from sophisticated state-of-the- art facilities to small scale as well as cottage operations. Majority of the cottage and small-scale units have limited resources for effective technological inputs and are ill-equipped to deal with the maintenance of food safety and quality in a scientific and sustained manner”
She added that the average number of facility license applications received annually from 2017 – 2019 in the Greater Accra Region was 600 and about 300 facilities representing 50% were unsuccessful in the registration processes.
Madam Darko further explained that per FDA’s 2019 statistics from a market surveillance, it showed that 661 locally manufactured products in the Greater Accra Region were not registered as per the Public Health Act 851 (2012) but were on the market.
“The Authority could not vouch for their safety. Reasons for the unsuccessful applications include; Cost of laboratory testing of products as part of registration requirements for which the FDA is currently applying risk-based approach to its registration process and has therefore applied indicator testing regime of food products without compromising on safety. This has drastically reduced the cost of laboratory analyses of food product testing. Lack of adequate knowledge of required processes and documentation. The FDA through its Food Industrial Support Service Department is providing expertise and guidance to the Industry. Inability of many cottage / small scale to meet facility establishment requirements” she said.
The CEO also mentioned that per this, the Government of Ghana, through the FDA has developed a new system of Progressive Licensing to support these small units, as they provide employment and generate income for their operators.
She explained that the Cottage/Small-scale food processing sector plays an important role in the country’s economy adding that it only needs to be offered greater opportunities to market their produce and share in the benefits of economic growth.
She said “Mr. Chairman it’s worth noting that the FDA bases its food regulatory actions on scientific principles to achieve improved food safety and quality. The FDA in carrying out its mandate of ensuring food safety and quality in the interest of public health and safety, has introduced this scheme to encourage cottage and small-scale sized food processors to be compliant with the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851)”
Madam Darko highlighted that the new scheme which is based on high quality, transparent, and independent scientific advice following risk analysis, will provide a high level of health protection for all.
Furthermore, she hinted that food products produced by cottage and small-scale sized food processors can be traced and recalled when necessary.
“In developing this Progressive Licensing Scheme for cottage and small-scale sized food processors, the FDA has taken into consideration a number of principles and values that underpin food regulation such as; Establishing emergency procedures for dealing with particular hazards (e.g. recall of products), Developing Science-based food control strategies and Establishing priorities based on risk analysis and efficacy in risk management” she said.
The CEO of FDA used the opportunity to assure citizens that this newly introduced Progressive Licensing Scheme will be implemented in a transparent manner.
She stated that marks will be awarded to facilities and the colour of the license issued will be dependent on the grades scored.
She said “The FDA will work assiduously to protect the consumer against unsafe, impure and fraudulently presented food by prohibiting the sale of food not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser”
The Chief Executive Officer was optimistic that the FDA will continue to protect public health and safety by reducing the risk of foodborne illness and contributing to economic development by maintaining consumer confidence in the food system and providing a sound regulatory foundation for domestic and international trade in food.
In a power-point presentation, Acting Head, Food Division of FDA, Roderick Daddey-Adjei hinted that introduction of Progressive Licensing Scheme will strengthen the capacities of cottage and small scaled food processors and provide guidance towards the implementation of food safety management systems based on the HACCP principles and Preventive Controls Measures.
He said “The introduction of a Progressive Licensing Scheme (PLS) for Manufacturing facilities will get more manufacturing facilities of cottage / small status licensed without compromising on the basic requirements of GMPs. As more cottage / small scale manufacturing facilities get registered the safety of food supplies in the formal and informal markets get assured. Due to the introduction of the PLS which uses a risk-based approach, (risk categorization) the period of registration is shortened all things being equal”
Chairman of FDA's Governing Board, Dr. Sammy Ohene commended the Food and Drugs Authority for coming up with such a brilliant initiative.
He said “Ladies and Gentlemen, this programme is being launched at a time when a number of cottages/small-scale businesses are being financially supported by the government. This strategy to improve the well-being of cottage/small-scale food processors without compromising food safety is a step in the right direction. It is believed that these adjustments made by the FDA will go a long way to enhance food safety in the cottage/small scale food processing Industry”
He added that the FDA will continue to work assiduously to improve the knowledge of Good Manufacturing Practices and Good Hygienic Practices of the Cottage/Small-scale Food processors.
Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith