Rose Omari, , Godfred Frempong
In Ghana, out-of-home ready-to-eat foods including fast food generally have been associated with food safety problems. Notwithstanding, fast food production and consumption are increasing in Ghana and therefore this study sought to determine the food safety issues of importance to consumers and the extent to which they worry about them. First, through three focus group discussions on consumers’ personal opinions about food safety issues, some emergent themes were obtained, which were used to construct an open-ended questionnaire administered face-to-face to 425 respondents systematically sampled from 20 fast food restaurants in Accra. Findings showed that most fast food consumers were concerned about food hazards such as pesticide residue in vegetables, excessive use of artificial flavour enhancers and colouring substances, bacterial contamination, migrated harmful substances from plastic packages, and general unhygienic conditions under which food is prepared and sold. Consumers also raised concerns about foodborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, food poisoning, diarrhoea, bird flu and swine flu. The logistic regression model showed that being male increased the likelihood of worrying about general food safety issues and excessive use of flavour enhancers than in females while being youthful increased the likelihood of being worried about typhoid fever than in older consumers. These findings imply that consumers in urban Ghana are aware and concerned about current trends of food safety and foodborne disease challenges in the country. Therefore, efforts targeted at improving food safety and reducing incidences of foodborne diseases should not only focus on public awareness creation but should also design more comprehensive programmes to ensure the making of food safety rules and guidelines and enforcing compliance to facilitate availability and consumers’ choice of safe foods.
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