Stakeholders have raised concerns about the unsafe and unscrupulous practices in food preparation and preservation in Nigeria, leading to the deaths of many Nigerians. Shocking statistics from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) suggest that over 200,000 Nigerians, including under-five children, die annually from consuming contaminated foods.
One harrowing incident involved an Uber driver named Mr. Peter Jeremiah, who consumed Amala and Ewedu and experienced severe stomach upset, vomiting, and stooling, eventually fainting. Luckily, he was rushed to the hospital in time to survive food poisoning. Another victim, Mrs. Grace Nnamdi, fell ill after eating beans and incurred significant medical expenses to recover.
Eva Edwards, the director of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at NAFDAC, highlighted several unethical practices leading to foodborne diseases. Farmers and business owners use harmful agrochemicals like sniper for storage and preservation of agricultural commodities. Other dangerous practices include using calcium carbide to ripen fruits, adding harmful substances to various food items, injecting poultry with hormones, and using banned colors and additives.
Edwards emphasized that the most vulnerable members of society, such as infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals, are disproportionately affected by these foodborne diseases.
In response to the growing concern, the Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, launched a campaign against drug hawking and the ripening of fruits with harmful chemicals like calcium carbide. Consumption of such fruits can lead to severe health issues, including cancer, heart, kidney, and liver failure.
NAFDAC is working on scientific studies to find the best approach to mitigate the health hazards posed by fruit ripening using carbide. Adeyeye urged Nigerians to report unsafe and unethical practices to NAFDAC for appropriate regulatory action.
Addressing food safety issues is vital to protect the health and well-being of the population, and NAFDAC’s campaign aims to create awareness and prevent further tragedies caused by unsafe food practices in Nigeria.
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