The Food and Drugs Board (FDB) will soon ban the importation and local production of non-fortified food products, particularly wheat flour and veg­etable oil products, to control the high level of micronutrient malnutrition in the country.

It has, therefore, given local producers and importers of such food products a two-month ultimatum to notify their suppliers on the inclusion of vitamin A, iron, folic acid and zinc in their products as it finalises a law to effect the ban.

The decision is to ensure that by October 2009 all wheat flour and vegetable oil products in the country are fortified as per standards in Ghana.

Addressing a press conference in Accra on Friday, the Project Manager for the Ghana-Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (Ghana-GAIN) Food Fortification Project, Mr Richard Nyuamoah, said the FDB, in collaboration with the National Food Fortification Alliance (NFFA), had developed standards for producers to adhere to.

He announced that the organisation would pay monthly visits to outfits of producers and importers of . wheat flour and vegetable oil products, as well as the markets, to pick samples and test them to ensure that they were fortified.

According to him, the addition of vitamin A and iron in food products would not change the products in any way nor cause a significant increase in the production cost of the products.

The acting Chief Executive of the FDB, Mr Stephen Opuni, said if Ghana was to attain middle-income status by 2015 as envisaged by the Millennium Devel­opment Goals, then micronutrient deficiencies, with their attendant economic effects, must be controlled.

He said various surveys conducted by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) indicated that the major nutrition­al problems plaguing Ghana were protein energy mal­nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, particularly vit­amin A deficiency, iodine deficiency disorders and iron deficiency.

“There cannot be a solution to the food security problem of Ghana without taking into account the nutri­tional needs of the rural population in particular,” he stated, and suggested that measures for increasing agri­cultural productivity must also involve efforts at pro­tecting the nutritional status of Ghanaians.

According to him, it was against this background that a 35-member multi-sectoral NFFA was formed in 2004 to develop a five-year food fortification strategic plan to address the problem of micronutrient deficiency in Ghana.

Consequently, he said, the board intended to imple­ment the appropriate regulatory measures to achieve the highest standards of safety, quality and efficacy of all products it regulated to protect the Ghanaian consumer.

That, he observed, included supporting the local food industry to produce safe and good quality food and expressed the belief that the board’s mandate was in line with the reasons underpinning the food fortification project.

Source: Daily Ghana