According to the research findings, the risk level is, however, high among those who take in ‘ewor kple’ because the metal wears off faster into the dry maize processed by the milling plates manufactured mainly by local artisans from Suame Magazine in Kumasi or Kokompe in Accra.
The lead researcher of the two-fold work, published in 2003 and 2011 respectively in the KNUST journal, Prof. Samuel Kwofie, told The Mirror that the poisonous metal produced what was termed ‘iron overload’, which if not expelled from the human system, could lead to all kinds of cancers.
Prof. Kwofie, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering of the College of Engineering of the university, and his colleague Dr Anthony Andrews, the Head of Department, in the first publication compared the local milling plates with that of foreign ones, and found out that the local ones wore off 10 times more than the foreign ones.
The dean said although the local artisans had the skill to produce the plates, they lacked the scientific knowledge and method of processing it.
The 2011 publication, which zeroed in on the local plates, was more revealing and indicated that eaters of ‘ewor kple’ were at a higher risk of contracting cancers than those who ate banku and others.
Prof. Kwofie said although iron consumption was important to the human body, those produced from the local plates were poisonous and could lead to ‘iron overloads’ which were injurious to the human body.
Following the findings, the two have started working on a possible solution, but their research appears to have been stalled due to the lack of funding.
Prof. Kwofie is, therefore, urging the private sector and indeed the government to step in to save the country’s workforce, most of who depend on corn-related foods for energy and survival.