The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), the national regulatory body for food and medicine, has cautioned Ghanaians, particularly, cooks, against the use of plastic films (polyethylene) to wrap Fante kenkey before cooking.
This is because the temperature at which the kenkey is cooked with wrapped polyethylene (which contains bisphenol A, BPA), could release some harmful chemicals and toxins in the plastics into the food.
BPA, together with other chemicals are used as precursor materials in the manufacturing of plastics, which health experts say its high level of exposure to humans could pose some health risks.
The cooking process involving the use of wrapped polyethylene, the Authority said could contaminate the food and cause hormonal imbalances, reproductive issues, cancer, and immune system damage to consumers.
Mrs Delese Darko, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FDA sounded this caution in a health note issued by the Authority and copied to the Ghana News Agency.
She noted that though studies have shown that there was minimal health risk associated with the consumption with exposure to Fante kenkey wrapped with polyethylene, “the biological magnification of phthalates as their continual consumption might pose severe public health issues.”
“For example, a study conducted by Mensah et al (2012) showed that one of the primary concerns for the use of plastics in cooking Fante kenkey was the release of plasticizers, which are chemicals added to plastics to increase their flexibility and durability,” the release said.
“Plasticizers such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates have been linked to various health problems, including hormonal imbalances, reproductive issues, and cancer. When plastics are heated, plasticizers can leach into the food they are in contact with, causing food contamination,” the study established.
Mrs Darko, therefore, urged Ghanaians to use traditional wrapping materials such as dried plantain or banana leaves, adding that such materials are natural and do not release harmful chemicals when heated.
She added that such natural materials were known to enhance the taste and smell of food, thereby, improving its taste, and urged the public to make sure that their hot foods were not predominantly covered in plastic bags at the point of sale.
The CEO of FDA said their Public Education Unit would enhance its education and sensitization programme to producers and consumers about how to properly use plastic packaging materials in food production, markets, and homes.
She said the Authority would continue to engage consumers, consumer protection advocates, the scientific community, and producers, to ensure that the health and safety of the people of Ghana was guaranteed.
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