Food Preservation Still a Major Problem!

The sale of exposed food in shops or markets exposes consumers to health hazards.

It is an image that leaves many disturbed. In the rainy like the dry seasons, the picture is the same. Food spread on bare ground, in dust like in mud. For first time visitors, it might look strange. But many Yaounde city dwellers are already used to the scenario and thus no cause for alarm.

These are some of the features in some of our markets. Those who patronise the Atangana Mballa Market in the Yaounde IV Sub-division, the Acacias Market in the Yaounde VI Sub-division, the Essoss Market in the Yaounde V Sub-division and the Mfoundi Market in the Yaounde I Sub-division, are used to such scenes. Be it tubers like cassava and cocoyam, perishables like fruits and vegetables and fries like doughnuts and parched grain, the level of exposure remains the same.

Even in some super markets, the situation does not seem to be better. During a recent visit to Yaounde markets in December, 2014, the Minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, was disappointed with some super markets. Foodstuff, especially meat and smoked fish, was poorly preserved and he decried the health consequences to consumers. If flies buzz around like bees in meat slaps and makeshift stores in markets, the same scenario should naturally not be expected in super markets.

Meat has preservation standards, which according to the Minister, are not being respected. He also cautioned against the proliferation and import of brands of vegetable oil suspected to be of doubtful quality. He immediately ordered an immediate review of preservation mechanisms in some of the shops. The Minister warned against the contamination of consumers, saying government’s concern was halting the growing incidence of food poisoning like abdominal pain, fever, cholera, vomiting and diarrhea. But the tides seem not to have turned.

A stopover in some markets and super markets yesterday, January 26, 2015, revealed the same old habits. But officials say the situation is unacceptable and must not be tolerated. Food scarcity is partly blamed on preservation. If the country, though a land of plenty in terms of agricultural production, faces scarcity, especially in the northern parts of the country, preservation is said to be a contributing factor.

“Valuing the preservation of foodstuff, be they canned or fresh, can help create substantial value, reduce imports, effectively fight poverty, contribute to food security by making food products available all-year-round and finally reduce post-harvest losses,” a food expert and Deputy Coordinator of the Coordination Committee for Africa, CCAFRICA, Medi Moungui explained.

In a 159-page publication, Prof. Franccedilois-Xavier Etoa, warns the public to “understand what is happening in the area of food processing, with special interest in certain microbes such as pathogenic andor spoiling bacterial spores that are capable of surviving heat-based food preservation treatments and causing food poisoning.” The Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, and World Health Organisation, WHO, Coordinating Committee for Africa, CCAFRICA, through the Codex Alimentarius, are working hard to develop harmonised international food standards, guidelines and codes of practices in food trade.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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