The Fourth Estate has discovered that 144 sachet water companies in Accra are producing water without a license from the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA). This revelation came to light after a journalist tested positive for typhoid and was advised by a physician to avoid drinking sachet water due to concerns about its purification process. Sachet water has become popular in Ghana as an alternative to tap water, but the lack of regulation in the industry has raised concerns about water-borne diseases.
The Fourth Estate conducted an investigation by randomly collecting 300 used sachet water bags from markets and lorry parks in the Greater Accra Region. They found that 142 of the brands, representing 47.3% of the sample, were not registered with the FDA. The FDA confirmed that any brand not on their official list or website is not registered, bringing the total number of unregistered brands to 144.
Typhoid fever, caused by contaminated food or water, has become a prevalent disease in Accra. Lack of safe drinking water is identified as the second major cause of typhoid cases in the city. Additionally, diarrhoea caused by drinking unsafe water has ranked among the top diseases in the Greater Accra region.
Ghana Statistical Services Concerns
The Ghana Statistical Services (GSS) has expressed concerns about the level of contamination in sachet water, with E. coli detected in households using this water source. The majority of inhabitants in the Greater Accra Region rely on sachet water as their primary drinking water source.
2,000 unregistered Sachet Water Producers Operating without a license
The Vice President of the National Association of Sachet and Packaged Water Producers (NASPWP) claims that there are over 2,000 unregistered sachet water producers operating without oversight from the FDA. The FDA stated that it lacks the necessary resources to stop illegal producers and cited difficulties in locating their hidden production sites.
The Fourth Estate visited several unlicensed sachet water companies and observed poor hygienic conditions during production. Some companies continued to produce water despite their licenses expiring.
The Public Health Act, 2012, imposes penalties for individuals involved in the unauthorized production and sale of food, including sachet water. However, the FDA appears more focused on ensuring compliance with regulations than on prosecuting illegal producers.
The lack of FDA oversight and the presence of unregistered sachet water brands pose significant health risks to consumers. Steps need to be taken to address the issue and ensure the safety of drinking water in Accra.
Source: The Fourth Estate