By Chioma Obinna
LAGOS—AS the World marked this year’s World Food Safety Day yesterday, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, has decried poor handling of foods in Nigeria by producers and sellers, saying the populace and consumers are being exposed unduly to health risks from contaminants.
At a briefing to mark the Day in Lagos with the theme: “Food Safety, Everyone’s Business”, the Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr. Christianah Adeyeye, also disclosed that the World Health Organisation, WHO’s, report showed that an estimated 600 million cases of food borne diseases occur annually while children under age five carry 40 percent of the burden of the disease with 125,000 deaths every year.
Adeyeye said in Nigeria, there had been reoccurring food safety issues as well as emerging issues including artificial ripening of fruits using unapproved agents such as calcium carbide which she said, could have deleterious effects on health when such fruits are consumed.
According to her, “The use of unapproved insecticides such as sniper for the preservation of grains by unauthorised persons, the use of containers contaminated with hazardous chemicals such as fertilizer bags for grains or chemical drums and jerry cans for food storage are classic examples of a common practice among the market men and women due to ignorance.”
“Unauthorised chemicals such as dichlorvos for storage of grains and other agricultural produce by unauthorised persons could lead to contamination of the stored products. Implicated in this practice also are exporters and dealers of agricultural commodities who spray hazardous pesticides on produce during storage to prevent damage by pests at the cost of human lives and public health. All these among other poor practices unduly expose the populace to health risk from these contaminants.”
Continuing, she listed other food safety challenges in the country to include; display of food products in the sun which could produce harmful by products such as benzene in soft drinks, poor transportation, and use of non-food grade packaging materials amongst others.