By Chioma Obinna, Chinelo Azike & Olaide Jejelola
The National Agency for Food Drug and Administration Control, NAFDAC, yesterday threatened a nationwide clampdown on producers of bread and other confectioneries over what it described as ‘illegal and unhygienic’ practices against food safety standards.
The Agency noted that despite the ban on the use of potassium bromate in baking many Nigerian bakers have continued the nefarious act at the detriment of the health of Nigerians.
Similarly, the Agency also issued a three -week ultimatum to bakers to comply with its guidelines or risk shut down of their facilities.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Professor Christianah Adeyeye, who handed over the warning in Lagos announced that the Agency has begun an awareness seminar across the six geopolitical zones of the country as a build-up to the nationwide clampdown exercise.
The Director-General who spoke at the One-Day workshop for Bread Producers on “Bread Quality and Safety Standards” said surveillance activities revealed a lack of commitment by most bakers to good hygiene practices.
Represented by the Director, Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Mr. Sherif Olagunju, she said most of the bakeries are infested with rats.
“We know how dangerous these rats can be. Again, some of them now put few tablets of potassium bromate in their pockets even when you come for an inspection you will not find them because they hide them in their homes and come with few tablets in their pockets. This has necessitated the need for the agency to collaborate with good hygiene practices through frequent workshops and grassroots sensistisation activities. The illegal use of dough improvers like potassium bromate, a potential carcinogen in bread has been of food safety concern,” Adeyeye said.
She further reminded the bread producers of the basic good hygiene practice requirements and the need for effective compliance with NAFDAC guidelines and procedures.
Adeyeye urged Nigeria bakers to understand the safety standards and adhere to them in order to increase consumers’ confidence in food safety.
“Bread quality intervention strategy will ensure that all bread producing facilities would produce safe bread for the Nigeria populace because the effective protection of over 167 million Nigeria public against cancer requires a preventive management approach.
Continuing, she said: “Another thing we discovered is, if somebody is going to make like four or five batches of bread, he may decide to add potassium bromate to like two or three batches and when supplying he will mix them up.
“There are very safe alternative available, most of the flour millers already produced high yeast flours that has the kind of addictive needed. There is quite a number that are already registered with NAFDAC and are safe for use.”
She urged defaulters to desist from using potassium bromate because the substance has the capacity to cause cancer and it has shown and proven through research that this chemical is no longer safe.
On his part, President, Premium Bread makers Association of Nigeria, Tosan Jemide said they are very concerned because it is key to stick to the regulations.
“We are happy NAFDAC is taking this big step, in every way, we are going to support and partner with them as best as we could to ensure that the use of bromate or any other harmful addictive is discouraged completely.”