A large number of food processors in Ghana are identified as either Cottage or Small Sized Food Processors (CSSFP).
Majority of these food processors are unable to meet the appropriate regulatory requirements and operate through unauthorized means.
It is for this reason that the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has launched the Progressive Licensing Scheme (PLS) for such food processors.
The Chairman of the FDA’s Governing Board, Dr. Sammy Ohene, at the program launch, acknowledged that “this program is being launched at a time when a number of cottages or small-scale businesses are being financially supported by the government. This strategy to improve the well-being of cottage or small-scale food processors without compromising food safety is a step in the right direction.”
He asserted that hopefully, the launch of this licensing program “will encourage every cottage or small scale food processor to comply with the rules and regulations of the FDA.”
The Progressive Licensing Scheme (PLS) is a risk-based approach scheme where three types of food manufacturing facility license certificates assuring the safe production of food will be given to qualifying applicants.
It is based on a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Standard where applicants get scored during an inspection and are awarded certificate ranges from pink (level 1) or yellow (level 2) or green (level 3) and hence the progressive nature.
The objective of this scheme is to help the local food industry grow to the extent that all grocery shops and supermarkets be stocked with at least 60% of made in Ghana food products.
Speaking at the launch of the scheme, the Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, Mimi Delese Darko, disclosed that about 50% of CSSFP were unsuccessful in the registration processes but had gone ahead to sell.
She said, “2019 statistics from FDA market surveillance showed that 661 locally manufactured products in the Greater Accra Region were not registered as per the Public Health Act 851 (2012) but were on the market.”
She attributed some of the reasons for this poor practice to the cost of laboratory testing of products as part of registration requirements, the lack of adequate knowledge of required processes and documentation and the inability of many cottages or small scale to meet facility establishment requirements.
It is for these reasons that the FDA had to step in with the introduction of the PLS “to support these small units, as they provide employment and generate income for their operators”.
According to Mrs. Darko, the new licensing scheme “which is based on high quality, transparent, and independent scientific advice following risk analysis, provides a high level of health protection for all. Furthermore, food products produced by cottage and small scale sized food processors can be traced and recalled when necessary.”
On his part, the acting Head of the Food Division department, Roderick Daddey-Adjei outlined some of the benefits that come with the launch of the new licensing program.
He stated, “The introduction of a Progressive Licensing Scheme (PLS) for Manufacturing facilities will help get more manufacturing about cottages or small status licensed facilities without compromising on the basic requirements of GMPs. As more cottage/small scale manufacturing facilities get registered the safety of food supplies in the formal and informal markets get assured.”
He also noted that there will be a drastic reduction in the cost of laboratory analyses of food product testing with the launch of PLS.