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Volta Akple deaths: Lab results reveal toxic substance in corn dough

The Food and Drugs Authority [FDA], has stated that the six persons who died at Akakpokope, a village in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region after eating Banku and Okro soup, may have died from a “toxic substance” in the corn dough.

The deceased persons suffered severe stomach ache after eating the akple and were admitted at the Hospital, where they later died.

The FDA officials, who visited the town picked samples for analysis, and also forwarded them to the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) for further analysis.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the FDA stated that “Laboratory results received indicated the presence of Chlorpyrifos, a very toxic substance found in commonly used pesticides which when ingested can cause death.”

In the statement signed by the acting Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, Delese A.A Darko, she said they will forward the findings to the Public Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service for further action.

Below is the FDA’s full statement 

Following the recent deaths at Akakpokope, a village in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region after the consumption of Banku and Okro soup, the FDA took samples of the food for analysis and forwarded samples to the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) for further analysis.

It may be recalled that on 4th of March, 2018, the Food and Drugs Authority’s (FDA’s) Volta Regional Office was alerted on a purported food poisoning incident involving two households after consuming a popular delicacy, Banku and Okro soup where the corn dough was made from tailings also known as “Gatemewor” by the locals which was bought from a corn mill owned by one of the affected families.

As indicated in our earlier communication, the FDA alerted the Regional Foodborne Disease Focal Person, other Public Health experts, officials from the Ghana Health Service, Municipal Assembly, the Ghana Police Service and the Municipal Health Directorate went to the scene.

The initial investigations of the team revealed that 8 people had been affected but five had passed on as at the time they arrived at the scene, and the three others were at the hospital. Samples of the corn dough and leftover banku were taken and forwarded to the FDA Quality Control Laboratory on Monday 5th March, 2018 for analysis of which part of same samples was sent to the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) for further analysis.

Laboratory results received from the GSA on the 13th of March, 2018 indicated the presence of Chlorpyrifos, a very toxic substance found in commonly used pesticides which when ingested can cause death. This result confirmed the initial laboratory analysis conducted by the FDA Quality Control Laboratory on 7th March, 2018.

In toxicological analysis, there is normally no fixed turnaround time as being suggested by the Consumer Advocacy Centre in their statement since the analyte is not known from the beginning.

The FDA is forwarding its findings to the Public Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service for further action.

As earlier communicated when the news broke out, the FDA is not mandated to determine the cause of death. This can only be established after a pathological Investigation.

We wish to state emphatically that as a Regulator, we need to be factual in every information put out to the public in order to avoid creating fear and panic.

The FDA would like to assure the general public that there is no cause for alarm as the corn mill from which the corn dough was sourced remains closed and the situation is under control.

The FDA appreciates the fact that increased consumer awareness of food safety issues has raised concerns regarding the authenticity of some foods on the Ghanaian market and the FDA is committed to addressing these concerns.

By: Farida Yusif/Citifmonline.com/Ghana

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