GHANA – The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) of Ghana has ordered the immediate withdrawal of 16 tomato paste brands from the market alleged to have been adulterated with starch and colour.

The brands in question are Alyssa, Aicha, Snow Red, Shalom, Mama and Papa, Juliet, Star-Time, Daily Double, Prestige, Roi Lion, Richese, Green Garden, Rococo, Nano, and Ma Bravo and Tasty tomato pastes.

A statement issued by the authority indicated that the ingredients erythrosine and starch that are not permitted in tomato paste and are not on the labels of the affected brands were detected in the products.

“During this process, we buy and test some of the products to see if they are as registered,”said acting Head of Food of the FDA, Mr Roderick Daddey Adjei.

“In the process of doing that, we picked about 70 brands of tomato paste. It was during the test that we found that the 16 mentioned have challenges,”

He said, as per the country’s food laws, it is illegal to add starch and colour to tomatoes as people who buy the paste expect tomato and not starch.

With the manufacturers failing to label the products to warn consumers of the content, Mr Adjei said it was a public health concern.

“The affected companies should recall their respective products from the market. Retailers are also to immediately return any affected product in stock to their suppliers,” it said.

The authority highlighted that the products have flouted the Ghana Standard for tomato paste (GS 246:2013 Processed Fruit and Vegetables-Specification for Tomato paste and Puree and its revised edition GS 246:2019) as well as the General Labelling Law.

While the FDA had given some manufacturers and importers a month to publish a recall and take steps to remove the products from the market, Mr Adjei said there had been foot-dragging hence its decision to publish the list.

He warned that the authority will not deal leniently with companies that fail to heed to the directive.

According to Mr Adjei, measures the companies are likely to face, includes administrative fines and imprisonment depending on the level of a company’s cooperation with the authority.