A packaged local drink "Burkina", a local milk-based snack, popular on the streets of Accra
Your favourite local drink like mashed kenkey, Burkina and lamoine may be very delicious, but have you wondered for a moment, the conditions under which these drinks were prepared before they got to the market?
Joy News reporter Yaa Fosuah Gyamfi has been investigating the health implications of uncertified local drinks and how the public can be prevented from eating just anything.
On a typical hot afternoon in the Capital, Accra, from street to street, traffic to traffic, you would find many young men and women selling favourite Ghanaian local drinks including Burkina, iced kenkey, ginger drink and Asaana.
For the modern Ghanaian, he or she expects to find chilled coconut water in a packaged bottle for sale under the hot scorching sun.
And trust me these drinks come as a welcome relief to patrons mainly to quench their thirst as they commute in vehicles or on foot from one part of the city to the other.
As one patron of these local drinks put it: “The local drinks are more healthy than the foreign ones, so I prefer the local ones”
When asked how she prepares her Mashed Kenkey, one Vendor replied:
“I mix the kenkey up with ground nut and blend it. In the past, I sold them in used or recycled plastic bottles, but now I buy brand new plastic bottles from the factory. The authorities didn’t like the fact that we sometimes go round collecting these used bottles to recycle them by packaging the mashed kenkey in them”.
Usually in small basins filled with ice blocks, hawkers walk through the various traffic intersections to hawk their ware.
But as much as these persons are trying to make a living off the streets of Accra, the critical question perhaps many have to ask before patronizing such drinks, is how safe they are.
Joy News Reporter Yaa Fosuah Gyamfi chanced upon a beautifully packaged iced kenkey bottle prepared and sealed nicely with the followin inscription on the label:
“Ingredient: Fante kenkey, cocoa poweder, milk, sugar. Shake Well before opening. Keep Refrigerated after opening. Drink within 24hours after opening. Made in Ghana by….”
To the ordinary consumer, the packaging of this product is enough for patronage, but a critical look on the labeling and the packaging reveals the absence of the Food and Drugs board certification.
And for the actual preparation of the product; None can tell, but its sweetness and yummy taste can hardly be overlooked.
One patron put it this way: “Most of the times we don’t look out for the Certification. It’s the tastes that matter”
Producer of these drinks are listed- FDA
A mashed kenkey label
Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority, John Odame Darkwa in an interview with Joy News said:
“We believe that once the product is safe, if even they are not registered, we classified them under listed companies. Listed means we know them, where they are, we know their operations, we have interacted with them, and we give them support them because they cannot meet the full requirement of registration. For those who are able to make it, we try to support them until they meet the full requirement of registration. But that notwithstanding, we ensure that the product is safe. So even though you might have the person’s product on the market without any FDB number, it does not necessarily mean it is not safe”
The situation is the same for other local drinks. For drinks like Burkina, that is receiving great patronage on the market, the packaging leaves much to be desired, much more looking out for the food and drugs board certification.
Again how safe is the Burkina we drink on the streets and what is the guarantee that Ghanaians are not eating poison?
But officials of the food and drugs board, the body mandated to regulate the influx of products on the Ghanaian market say they cannot do much other than provide education for the producers of these drinks.
Well, the FDA faces a lot more challenges in addressing the situation. For now, as you continue enjoying your favourite local drink, just take a moment to ponder over whether you are not consuming just anything.