Dr Bernard Okoe-Boye, a medical doctor and Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority has shared some tips on how to avoid food poisoning, particularly waakye.
Speaking on Metro TV’s Good Morning Ghana programme, Dr Okoe-Boye encouraged lovers of the waakye staple to always opt for the black pepper instead of the red.
He explained that due to the process for the preparation of the black pepper, poisoning substances are most likely to be extinguished by the time it is fully prepared.
Compared to the fresh pepper, referred to widely as red pepper, Dr Okoe-Boye says that the process for the preparation of that stew is less thorough and therefore susceptible to food poisoning.
He detailed that the only way the black pepper would be poisoned after going through that process is if a chemical poison is deliberately planted in it.
On how the location of waakye joints makes them open to food poisoning and how it can be prevented, Dr Okoe-Boye counselled people to take in the food when it is warm with vapor coming out it.
The heat from the waakye, Dr Okoe-Boye says makes it difficult for poisonous substances to thrive.
“For waakye in particular, anything that is fried is usually safer. The black pepper for instance, even if it is contaminated, by the time it goes through the process, it is largely safer, so you are safer eating the black pepper than the red pepper. The fresh is always a risk if it is not prepared under hygienic conditions.
“The time it is prepared and the time consumed is also a problem. If its takes quite a period, it would have gone through some changes and because it is fresh, organism plays on it so it is not safe. The black pepper is less healthy compared to the fresh but it is safer. So what I advice people is that if you want to enjoy kenkey, buy the kenkey and prepare the red pepper yourself.
“Even if the waakye is by the gutter once it is hot and there’s vapor coming out whiles being served, then you are safe. Make sure that the time you are being served, there is vapour coming out or you warm it when you eat at home. If its cold, microwave it” he said.
His expert advice comes in the wake up of a report that some five persons including a pregnant woman died after taking waakye from a particular joint.
The waakye was bought at a joint at Oyibi Bush Canteen Junction in Greater Accra.
Aside from the five dead people, over 30 persons have been affected and rushed to the Valley View Hospital, Oyibi Hospital, Dodowa Hospital, and other facilities after they complained of severe stomach ache, the victims include the waakye seller.
The affected individuals are said to have eaten the Waakye last Friday at a popular joint called Yellow Sisi.
According to a Daily Graphic report, during their visit to Valley View Hospital, officials confirmed some people were rushed into the hospital but have been treated and discharged.
The hospital also said they are investigating to ascertain if the patients’ cases were indeed from food poisoning.
“As at now, some other people are still visiting the hospital and, therefore, until all the necessary laboratory tests are complete, we cannot give specific data on the number of people who have been affected or whether it was indeed a case of food poisoning,” Dr Esther Danquah said.