Patrons of the Kwame Nkrumah Circle branch of Las Palmas Restaurant have threatened to boycott the popular eatery if its management fails to correct sanitation breaches identified by AMA officials.
“I always eat here, but I never knew this is how they prepare the food. If I knew, I’d never have come here”, one of the customers told Joy News.
Another said, “This is where we eat, and the food is really nice. But if this is how they operate, then it’s better we go far away to buy food”.
Environmental Health Officers of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) on Wednesday shut down the eatery.
This follows a visit by the Joy Clean Ghana Team to the branch, which revealed that the food sold there was being prepared without recourse to sanitation regulations.
Director of Public Health at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Florence Kuukyi, cited the unavailability of a dedicated toilet facility for the eatery, even though several of the workers lived on the premises.
Other reasons included; the unsanitary conditions under which the food on sale at the eatery was being prepared and none of the workers was able to show a medical certificate qualifying them to sell food to the general public.
“We are closing it down. First of because of the conditions under which they cook and sell the food. Look at the net above us, it had been overtaken by dust and cobwebs, and this is where they cook the food. So anything at all could fall into the food, and no one will know”, Florence Kuukyi noted.
“Also, contrary to the AMA Bye-Laws 2017, they don’t have a toilet facility here. Some of them sleep in this building. It’s not far to think that when they are pressed, they do in polythene bags and fly them outside”, she added.
The supervisor at the eatery, who identified herself as Aunty Hannah, had a hard time explaining why none of the workers had a medical certificate.
“When they did it, I was not here. I was in Kumasi, so I think that it is at our head office at Abeka. So I will have to call them to bring it”, she initially explained.
It will, however, later emerge that the workers were new staff who had never taken the tests yet.
This added on to the offences noted by the AMA team, which issued a closure notice to the supervisor. The closure notice takes effect on Thursday, July 22, 2021, until steps were taken to correct the sanitation breaches.
Earlier, about four workers at the Avenor Slaughterhouse, operating illegally, had been isolated after a compulsory medical screening revealed they had at least Typhoid Fever and/or Hepatitis B.
The screening exercise was conducted by Public Health Officers of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly after it emerged that over 200 of the workers there did not have medical certificates.
In the past year alone, at least three visits had been made to this same slaughterhouse, with a caution for its operators to ensure adherence to sanitation standards.
But like the mouse when the cat is away, the departure of the officials also meant the return to flouting the regulations.
In June, the team was greeted by open drains choked by excrement from the intestines of the slaughtered animals. As flies besieged us in the yard, the pungent smell from the gutters at the abattoir was also in a strong contest for our attention.
Director of Public Health at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Florence Kuukyi, ordered immediate cleaning of the slaughterhouse with a screening exercise scheduled for later.
“So as we are standing here, we are commanding all of [them] to go and get brooms to clean the place right now. If they don’t do it, we are closing down the place. After that, all of them must be tested before they are allowed to handle meat here,” Florence Kuukyi screamed.
There was visible improvement at the Avenor Slaughter slap in Accra on the second visit by AMA sanitation officers after an earlier visit last month.
The facility, which is the only functioning slaughterhouse in Accra, attracted public attention after it emerged that animals were being killed at the almost open-air slaughterhouse under highly unsanitary conditions.
“So as we are standing here, we are commanding all of [them] to go and get brooms to clean the place right now. If they don’t do it, we are closing down the place,” Florence Kuukyi screamed.
On the second visit, however, she said, “we can see about some 45 per cent improvement in the conditions here, and the operators have shown commitment to improving the situation”.
“It’s not all done. They have promised to tile the place and construct a fence wall to keep rodents, insects, and other animals out”, she added.
For the workers on duty, they were observed to be possessing AMA medical certificates. They were also wearing their facemasks and had stopped recycling dirty water to wash the slain animals’ carcasses.
“We are happy about what you people are doing. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Even if you live in a house, you’re expected to clean it when you wake up. How much more where you work,” one of the workers told the Joy Clean Ghana team.
“We came all the way from the North, and we now have a job. We don’t want it to be shut down, so we will obey all the regulations given”, another said.
AMA officials say they are impressed by the efforts being made by managers of the slaughterhouse to upgrade the facility.