The warehouse of the Royal Jade Restaurant at East Legon with hoarded suspected expired products used for cooking, has been tampered with.
This came to light when officials of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) yesterday, stormed the facility which was sealed off last Friday, when the owners failed to open it for inspection.
“We have taken serious view of this development and would apply the fullest sanctions that go with such infractions,” the FDA’s Head of Communications, told The Ghanaian Times.
He said the FDA management would meet today to take the appropriate action.
“Trust me, we are not going to spare anybody,” said Mr. James Lartey, who led a three-member FDA inspection team to the restaurant yesterday.
A two-member FDA team, led by the Head of Food-borne Disease Surveillance, Ben Osei-Tutu, on Friday locked up the two doors to the warehouse after the Managing Director of the restaurant, Mr. Bruce Jeu, had failed to open it for inspection.
He claimed that an officer who had the keys was away and he did not have any spare, even though The Ghanaian Times sources indicated that the key was there.
When the warehouse was eventually opened yesterday by a staff of the restaurant for inspection, it was realised that the seal on the inside door had been tampered with as secret FDA markings were turned upside down.
On entering the warehouse, it was discovered that boxes and bags of the suspected expired items captured by camera through a transparent window, had vanished.
However, Mr. Jeu denied anything like that took place saying “Me no enter … true, true,” in some passable English, in defence.
But Mr. Lartey told The Ghanaian Times that “clearly, evidence has been tampered with and they don’t have any excuse.”
Against the direction of the FDA, the restaurant, whose operating licence expired on October 17, 2012, was still operating when the team visited with the kitchen bustling with activity.
“We gave them clear instructions not to operate until further notice and we are surprised at what is going on,” the FDA head of communications, said.
Meanwhile, The Ghanaian Times sources said hundreds of expired canned products were on Saturday night allegedly carted away from the premises of the restaurant, apparently to escape detection by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
With the FDA confirming that the inside door to the warehouse had been tampered with, it may only have confirmed the claim by The Ghanaian Times’ sources.
It is recalled that the FDA, acting on a special investigation by The Ghanaian Times, last Friday raided two branches of the Royal Jade Restaurant at East Legon and Dansoman in Accra, for using expired products to prepare food for their customers.
The operations, carried out simultaneously at the two branches, took place after about two months’ of undercover investigations by The Ghanaian Times at the main branch of the restaurant at East Legon.
At the Dansoman branch, the team, led by Mrs Maria Lovelace-Johnson, the Authority’s Head of Foods Safety Management Department, locked up the premises, after retrieving hundreds of the expired Chinese canned food products from the restaurant’s kitchen.
The products included cans of Po-ku mushroom, with manufacturing date of November 14, 2010 expiring in 2013; Del Monte quality fresh cut cream style corn (produced on May 22, 2009, expired in 2011), winter bamboo shoots produced on March 27, 2009 and expired on December 31, 2012) and mushroom dark soy sauce which had no information of its expiry date.
Mrs Lovelace-Johnson explained that the premises were closed down because its management lacked the commitment of maintaining standards.
She condemned the unhygienic conditions under which food was being prepared for public consumption, saying “the situation is such that we have no option than to lock up the place to protect the public from danger.”
By John Vigah