Five organisations in the Upper West Region of Ghana have instituted an investigation into the alleged contamination of Shea butter and groundnuts from the region.
The team of investigators comprises the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
The action came after publication of unconfirmed information and a subsequent joint petition to the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.
The petition was sent by IDEAL Providence Farms, the chiefs and people of Guli Community, Nantiaha Women Association of Kperisi and members of the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary.
The terms of reference for the team would be that the FDA would look at the issue of safety and quality of the products, EPA would focus on the said chemical to establish whether there was any contamination or not and the GHS would take charge of finding out whether the chemical had indeed killed some animals as alleged by the petitioners.
The EOCO and MOFA would also investigate the aspect of fraudulent misrepresentation and sensitise members of the alleged affected communities respectively.
The lead complainant in the matter is IDEAL Providence Farms which, in a 12- page petition to the Minister dated March 3, 2017 and titled; “Petition on the contamination of organic Shea butter and groundnuts,” alleged that an investigation into the situation traced the source of contamination to the residual effect of spraying with Pirimiphos-Methyl in the locality as part of the AngloGold Ashanti Malaria Control Programme (AGAMAL).
The petition also claimed that checks from the EPA and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) indicated that the chemical, Pirimiphos-Methyl, did not pass the test and was indeed a banned chemical.
However, the team of investigators had already established that the chemical was not banned and that it had even been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for farmers for preservation and had been in use for over 20 years now.
Mr Gorden Akurugu, the Upper West Regional Director of the FDA, briefing the Ghana News Agency, said some of the farmers had already revealed at a meeting that they were tricked by one Madam Georgina Koomson of IDEAL Providence Farms to thumbprint the petition for her.
He said the team had taken the matter seriously and would make their findings public as soon as investigation was concluded to restore public confidence or otherwise in the product.