The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has ordered the immediate withdrawal of certain batches of 16 tomato paste brands from the market because they have been adulterated with starch and colour.
A statement issued by the authority indicated that the ingredients—erythrosine and starch that are not permitted in tomato paste and are not on the labels of the affected brands.
“The affected companies should recall their respective products from the market. Retailers are also to immediately return any affected product in stock to their suppliers,” it said.
The brands in question are Alyssa, Aicha, Snow Red, Shalom, Mama and Papa, Juliet, Star-Time, Daily Double, Prestige, Roi Lion, Richese, Green Garden, Rococo, Nano, and Ma Bravo and Tasty tomato pastes.
It said the products have flouted the Ghana Standard for tomato paste (GS 246:2013 Processed Fruit and Vegetables-Specification for Tomato paste and Puree and its revised edition GS 246:2019) as well as the General Labelling Law.
Acting Head of Food of the FDA, Mr Roderick Daddey Adjei, told theghanareport.com that the authority detected the anomaly during a product quality marketing survey.
“During this process, we buy and test some of the products to see if they are as registered. In the process of doing that, we picked about 70 brands of tomato paste. It was during the test that we found that the 16 mentioned have challenges,” he said.
He said, as per the country’s food laws, it is illegal to add starch and colour to tomatoes as people who buy the paste expect tomato and not starch.
“What this means is that you are selling less of the products people want to buy. People want take soup and not carbohydrate,” he said.
With the manufacturers failing to label the products to warn consumers of the content, Mr Adjei said it was a public health concern.
While the FDA had given some manufacturers and importers a month to publish a recall and take steps to remove the products from the market, Mr Adjei said there had been foot-dragging hence its decision to publish the list.
He warned that the authority will not deal leniently with companies that fail to heed to the directive.
Asked what about the punitive measures recalcitrant companies are likely to face, he said it includes administrative fines and imprisonment depending on the level of a company’s cooperation with the authority.
On November 29, 2019, tinned tomato manufacturers, Rabaj Company Limited, asked distributors and retailers to return all Cindy and Lele Tomato paste from the market as management has identified “an anomaly in a particular batch”.
Rabaj in a public notice published in the Daily Graphic directed all its key distributors and retailers to return stock in their possession to their depots nationwide.
The notice further advised individuals in possession of the two brands to return them to the retail outlets where they were purchased.
According to management, recalling all batches of the brands will enable it to clear the particular defective batch from the market.