News about a group of students of Ghana Senior High School, Koforidua suffering food poisoning made the headlines last week. Parents were expectedly anxious seeking to know whether it was occasioned by food they consumed at school or not.
It turned out however that thankfully those who suffered the health condition had patronized a nearby joint labeled ‘Bush Canteen’.
Food is one of the things we take for granted in this country. From being negligent about the nutritional values of what we consume to the conditions under which they are prepared and even preserved, we do not seem to care.
The reckless pun that ‘African germs do not kill’ still holds sway among some of us the educated as we ignore the rudiments of food hygiene.
What befell the students, for which thankfully they were treated and eventually discharged, should be a wake-up call for all us especially the authorities who are responsible for ensuring that standards of food hygiene is upheld.
By this commentary, we ask school authorities to ensure that those who sell food within and near them adhere to basic hygienic standards so that we do not encounter what befell the Koforidua students again.
While we encourage school authorities who are already ensuring that food sold within and outside campuses meet hygienic standards, we demand of those who have not learnt from what triggered this commentary to do so to obviate a replication of the Koforidua incident.
Students should be periodically educated about the dangers in reckless patronage of food joints outside the school and the possible fallouts. When they are properly informed they would appreciate the importance of food hygiene.
It is interesting how some persons sought to demonise the free SHS using this incident as basis for their warped argument when indeed the students who contracted the health challenge were not boarders but day students. In any case, food poisoning can afflict us wherever we are and when it happens all we have to do is take another look at the conditions under which our food is prepared and preserved for consumption especially at school.
Recently the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) embarked upon a programme to ensure that food hygiene is maintained by those who prepare and sell food within their area of jurisdiction.
We salute them for the belated initiative. This is one of the core mandates of assemblies but it is however, hardly enforced. The result of the negligence is the selling of food by all manner of persons under mostly unacceptable conditions.
It is a fact that some health conditions can easily be transmitted by food handlers to others but with such persons not even knowing their statuses, it is not possible that they would do anything to prevent such possible transmissions.
The AMA and other assemblies across the country should ensure that food sellers and handlers meet a certain minimum health standard. Those who qualify should be certified to sell or even handle food. Those who do not, should not be allowed to sell food.