-Warns against usage of addictives, chemicals in foods
The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC says it has found poisonous chemicals in two of the five flavoured drinks in connection to the recent death of three persons in Kano State.
NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, who regretted the ugly incident, said investigations by the agency revealed that some samples of the flavoured drinks tested contained E-Coli bacteria and hyroxylamine, a poisonous substance.
This is as the World Health Organisation (WHO) affirms the degree of morbidity related to unsafe foods, stating that it contains harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, which cause more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers.
The apex health agency asserted that an estimated 600 million, almost 1 in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420,000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years (DALYs).
“Children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden, with 125,000 deaths every year. Diarrhoeal diseases are the most common illnesses resulting from the consumption of contaminated food, causing 550 million people to fall ill and 230,000 deaths every year”, it stated.
Adeyeye, through a statement signed by the Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, on Sunday, cautioned Nigerians against adding chemicals and additives to food and drinks to enhance taste, stressing that such practices could result in severe illness and even death.
Speaking on the unfortunate incident in the ancient city of Kano, which led to the death of three unsuspecting consumers in the state as a result of their consumption of dangerous chemicals used as additives in the served flavoured drink, she said the preliminary result of the agency’s investigation has been submitted to Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
She however noted that only two of the five flavoured drinks identified in the incidence were registered by NAFDAC while three were not on the agency’s data base.
‘’We have five flavoured drinks. Two were registered while three were not. Any food that is unregistered are not guaranteed by NAFDAC and could be is unwholesome. It’s fake food. It was most likely smuggled into the country, she further explained, stressing that, “we tested all the food samples, and there was E-Coli bacteria in some. One would wonder how E-Coli bacteria would get into powder. It depends on the storage. If it’s stored in a very humid condition, and expired, the packaging probably was getting compromised, you can get bacteria into dry powdered medium. But ordinarily it shouldn’t happen.
‘’ We are very particular about food additives, about the temperature at which a food can be kept, or about the expiration date of food. If all of these are violated, then there could be food poisoning’’. She said, adding, whether it’s food or water, adding chemicals and other substances either to enhance the food or change its form can be dangerous especially when we can’t verify the source and content of such additives”, she said.
Prof. Adeyeye further explained that they also brought an additive that was kept in transparent freezer bag. There was another unknown chemical that was sold as food additive. This chemical for 25KG bag was supposed to be sold for N30,000. One of the merchants got it for N3,000 and sold it to another merchant for N7,000. The merchant that got it for N7,000 thought it was Dantsami (Hausa for “something sour”) that they normally use and tasted it to confirm that truly it was Dantsami. Dantsami is what is used in some parts of northern Nigeria to make drinks sour. 25KG kilo bag of the unknown chemical was also sent to the Agency’s laboratory in Kaduna for testing.
She disclosed that having tested the additive chemical, it was discovered to be hyroxylamine. ‘’It’s a poison. Sometimes it’s used for terrorism. This is very sad because it involved people dying’’.
According to her, the importance of food cannot be over-emphasised. She however, noted that ‘’but when dangerous foreign elements find their way into our foods and water, then it becomes poisonous rather than being nutritious’’.
She pointed out that food contamination and poisoning could occur through consuming expired food. The NAFDAC boss added that food poisoning could also occur by preparing food with poorly sourced water and putting cooked food on the shelf for several days or months: or in the refrigerator for too long amongst others.