Curbing the Use of Chemicals as Food Preservatives

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Curbing the Use of Chemicals as Food Preservatives

Recently, the news of beans being preserved with sniper came into public knowledge in the country. The chemicals are applied to crops during planting and post-harvest to preserve them before they reach consumers.

In an online video that went viral, some food vendors were seen spraying the chemical on beans which is detrimental to human health.

It is on record that families have been wiped out as a result of consuming contaminated food items in the country. It is also a known fact that these contaminated foods lead to diseases and premature deaths.

In August 2017, five members of a family died in Okija, Anambra State, after they consumed rice suspected to have been poisoned. Also, a recent case, on November 11 in Ilorin, Kwara State, four members of a family were found dead after a meal of Amala while four others who ate the same meal were hospitalized.

It is however sad that imported food items are not left out.

Frozen poultry products like beef and fish, are reportedly preserved with chemicals like formaldehyde by smugglers. Formaldehyde is a cancer-causing substance which could cause liver, kidney and heart failures.

While comparing countries, the European Union is always at alert about the food items its citizens consume, whether produced there or imported.

The EU in 2015 barred forty two food items that came from Nigeria. Also in 2016, twenty five food items were rejected. The officials said they discovered glass fragments, rodent excreta, and dead insects and high levels of unhealthy chemicals in them.

In 2000, Nigeria banned the importation of frozen poultry products. It is unfortunate that the ban is not effective as these products are still being sold to consumers.

Reacting on the issue, in an interview with newsmen in Otukpo, Benue State, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, expressed displeasure at the use of chemicals for food preservation and fruit ripening.

Unfortunately, the National Agency for Food and Drug, Administration and Control, NAFDAC, the agency saddled with the responsibility of sanitizing both local and imported foods has not been doing enough to eradicate the use of chemicals as food preservatives, stakeholders should be more pro-active against the harmful practice.

There is the need to revive the extension services departments that will communicate with farmers on how to apply fertilizers and pesticides.

NAFDAC needs to be effectively equipped to be able to discharge its responsibility of protecting public health.

Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, should prevent smugglers from infiltrating the country with these products and those that are arrested should be made to face the wrath of the law.

State governments should have inspectors to test food samples from the markets in their domains so as to spot items that are contaminated and prevent the citizens from consuming poisonous food.

Fawzeeyah Kasheem

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