The Central Regional Office of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has organised a-day's training workshop for water producers in the Region on production and regulatory requirements at Ajumako-Techiman in the Ajumako-Eyan-Essiam district.
Ms Francisca Obeng, Senior Regulatory Officer in her opening remarks said the essence of the training was to assist beneficiaries to better understand Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), ensure consistency, quality control, legal requirement, food safety and improving consumer needs.
She cautioned against mislabeling and packaging saying packaged food shall not be described or presented on any label or in any packaging manner that is false, misleading, and deceptive or is liable to create an erroneous impression regarding its character in any respect.
Also, no changes may be made to the quality specification, composition, packaging materials, manufacturing process and site of manufacture of the food product without prior approval from the FDA.
Her caution was in accordance with the powers conferred on the Authority by section 81 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851) that mandates the FDA to provide and enforce standards for the sale of food among others.
Reinforcing the caution, Mr Jesus Christ Otchere, a Regulator with the Authority indicated that the Authority had issued a directive to all non-retail producers and manufacturers of bottled and sachet water to act accordingly with the law to avoid the sanctions thereof.
He said: "All producers and manufacturers are requested to take note and comply with all labelling information on both primary and secondary to be the same."
"The name and contact details of franchisee(s), where applicable, should be on the front of the pack or on the principal display panel of the secondary package as well as the primary package. The font size on the product label should be at least half of the size of the largest front on the label."
Throwing more light on GMP, Mr Otchere said it represented a documented proof which indicated a high degree of assurance that a product would be manufactured consistently in accordance with its specification and standards based upon, which marketing authorization was granted.
He gave pictorial evidence of some malpractices at some water manufacturing sites including rusted production materials, dirty filters, broken or haphazard pipes outlays and untidy production grounds.
He also took them through registration requirements, food handler's certificate, certificate of analysis of finished products, model labels and charged to take keen interest in it.
Additionally, explaining the significance of shelf-life of processed food products, he stated that the shelf-life of products was the period between production, packaging, transportation, distribution and sales, adding that during that period, a quality product would remain safe for consumption if kept under recommended manufacturing storage conditions.
According to him, the belief that 'best before' dates on products were an indication that the product had expired yet, can be used within a time frame until finally it becomes dangerous for consumption was incorrect and people should not be deceived by that.
Rather, he pointed out that the dates signified the end of the product under any storage condition, saying, "Food products loose its marketability after the best before dates expires."
Some beneficiaries at the end of the exercise advocated for regular maintenance culture, change of filters, lack of records keeping, lack of regular cleaning of pollutants and lack of proper distribution and storage facilities as practices that must be prioritized.