The Togolese Ministry of Health is aware that food poisoning is a real problem, but the country's health information system does not yet allow to document these cases.
"Today, there are no statistics to say that this proportion of the population is exposed or has passed away due to such a food infection. To collect this information, we need some indicators. Thank God, we have REDISSE project which is in the process of establishing disease surveillance," said Kwoami Dovi, Sanitary Engineer and Environment Officer, Head of Health Control and Inspection Division at the Ministry of Health.
Aware that there are products coming onto the market that are beyond the control, Mr. Dovi calls on all consumers to have the right reflex by checking at their level, the couple, dates and conditions of conservation.
Talking of dates, we have the deadline of consumption, characterized by the mention 'to consume until'. In this case, it means that it is a micro biologically perishable product. And these products, when consumed after the deadline, one is exposed to the risks of food diseases that are of three types.
There are intoxications (from chemicals), food poisoning and poisoning (all from biology and micro biology).
"Food poisoning comes from foodstuffs in which microorganisms and their toxins are found, and when they are consumed, they expose to diseases such as typhoid fever. In the case of poisoning, when handling foods with a hand that presents wounds, one can contaminate these foods," clarifies the sanitary engineering engineer.
The eligible products in this category are dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit peeled and packed in bags.
In addition to the use-by date, there is the optimal use-by date, also called the date of minimum durability and which is characterized by the statement to consume preferably, to consume before or to consume before completion.
In this case, it must be understood simply that it is a bacteriologically stable product.
"It means that when the date is passed, in terms of health, the consumer is not exposed to immediate effects, but the product loses its organoleptic qualities such as color, flavor," explains Mr. Dovi.
The eligible products at this level include: coffee, cookies, uncooked rice, unpeeled fruits and vegetables, liqueurs, wines, vinegar, fermented grape beverages, beverages alcohol exceeds 10%, cooking salt, pastry and bakery products.
The temperature to check!
The other aspect of food quality monitoring is the conservation measures in place, the temperature.
"The conservation of very perishable products is often between 0 and 4°. But when the product is not very perishable, they can be kept between 0 and 8°. So, if you see a product on which it is written to keep at 8° and the product is sold in conditions that exceed this degree, it should normally attract your attention," urges the expert.
REDISSE to collect data
Financed by the World Bank group with 10.5 billion CFA, the Regional Project for the Strengthening of the Disease Surveillance System in Togo (REDISSE) is a project jointly run by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Launched in Lome on February 1, 2018 and ending on August 31, 2023, its main objective is to address the weaknesses in human and animal health systems that hinder the surveillance and effective response of diseases.
"As soon as it's done, we can collect data from there to feed the database," Kwoami Dovi hopes. Before this happens, it is the duty of every consumer to get involved in control of the food they take on the market.