Many Nigerians are dying as a result of unsafe, unscrupulous practices going on with food preparation and preservation in Nigeria, stakeholders have revealed.
An Uber driver, Mr Peter Jeremiah, could have been added to the over 200,000 Nigerians including under-five children who reportedly die annually from the consumption of contaminated foods, (according to statistics from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
The 22nd of March, 2023, could have been the last day for Jeremiah, who ate Amala and Ewedu and went to sleep, only to wake up the next day, feeling severe stomach upset, which followed with vomiting and stooling.
Before Jeremiah got to the hospital, he had already fainted. “I woke up the next day at Gbagada General Hospital. According to my wife, someone was also rushed, with the same symptoms as mine, but didn’t survive. The only thing the doctor could diagnose was food poisoning. He said I would have died, if my wife had wasted time, before bringing me to the hospital,” Jeremiah said to me.
A business woman in Lagos, Mrs Grace Nnamdi was also fortunate, as she nearly died as a result of food poison. “I ate beans and few hours later, I started vomiting and stooling. My daughter spent almost N500,000, before I was released from the hospital,” Mrs Nnamdi averred.
The director, Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Eva Edwards, told me that foodborne diseases affect disproportionately the most vulnerable of the society, the infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and immunuocompromised people.
Edwards disclosed that many farmers and business owners use agrochemicals such as sniper for storage and preservation of agricultural commodities such as grains (beans), adding that it presents negative health outcomes.
Other unethical practices are the use of calcium carbide in ripening fruits; tendering of meat with paracetamol by food vendors, which can lead to liver and kidney failure; using formaldehyde to preserve fish; injecting poultry with hormones to conceal disease; harmful food coloring applied to fresh fruit to cover defects; adding sufan dyes to palm oil to give an attractive red colour; adding banned color to spices and adding sugar-based products to honey, the director highlighted.
She averred that all Nigerians have right to good safety, healthy and nutritious good, while urging Nigerians to report unsafe unethical practices to NAFDAC for necessary regulatory action.
To tackle the menace of food poisoning in Nigeria, the DG, NAFDAC, Prof. Moji Adeyeye recently launched a campaign against drug hawking and ripening of fruits in Lagos.
Adeyeye disclosed that consumption of fruits that have been ripened with harmful chemicals like calcium carbide may cause cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure.
The DG, who was represented by the director, Chemical Evaluation and Research, NAFDAC, Dr. Leonard Omokpariola at the awareness campaign in Lagos, averred that the Agency has commissioned a scientific study on the best approach towards mitigating the health hazards posed by ripening fruits with carbide.