The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), on Wednesday, launched the “Healthy Street Food Incentives” (HSFI) project, to boost the safety and nutritional balance of street food in Ghana.
The HSFI seeks to stimulate demand and offer of vegetables, motivate street food vendors to register in a public database and ensure resource-efficient food monitoring and inspection system for street food vendors in the country.
Mrs Delese Mimi Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority, who launched the project in Accra, at an inception workshop for stakeholders on advancing implementation, underscored the socio-economic importance of street food in developing countries.
She said in the last four decades, urban areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America have witnessed increased vending and consumption of street food because the sector offered ready to eat meals and beverages that were prepared and or sold by itinerant or stationary vendors, especially on streets and in other public places.
She said the Sector, however, was compromised on food safety and nutrition issues, as street foods have been associated with a number of food-borne disease outbreaks largely due to unsanitary conditions, as well as challenges with nutritionally balanced menus and a widespread informalities.
Mrs Darko said to address the challenges, development practitioners and economists have over the last two decades, designed and successfully implemented incentive mechanisms to raise funds for development and to drive desired social behaviours within the framework of development interventions in the area of health, education, community building, and tax compliance.
She expressed the Authority’s appreciation to the FAO in responding to its request to assist in improving food safety and nutrition in the country through the implementation of the HSFI.
Mrs Darko said the system was meant to encourage street food vendors to add fruits and vegetables to their menu to earn them an increased number of customers, revenue and trust among consumers.
The association would benefit from political and legal recognition, enhanced capacity, equipment and infrastructure through development interventions.
Mrs Darko further stated that consumers would benefit from healthier and safer street foods, while local fruit and vegetable farmers would also profit from market expansion, and improved farming inputs through development interventions.
Mr Serge Nakouzi, the Deputy FAO Regional Representative for Africa, said the initiative comes in handy among the Organisation’s core mandate to end hunger and malnutrition towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said evidence from a study by the FAO in collaboration with the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, on food vending within the Accra metropolis, have shown insanitary conditions and widespread informalities of the sector, as a number of them were unregistered.
He said recommendations included the improvement of the safety of street food through major structural and infrastructural interventions, stimulation of the sale and consumption of ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables, and the need to motivate and facilitate the registration of street food vendors for effective monitoring.
Mr Nakouzi expressed his appreciation to the FDA for its collaboration and commitment throughout the process to ensure the successful rollout of and implementation of the initiative.