The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has disclosed its readiness to sanction bread producers and other bakers who are in the habit of not adhering to Good Hygiene Practices (GHP), in order to ensure safety of bread and other allied products for public consumption.
The agency acknowledged its sensitivity to the increasing costs of ingredients in the production of bread, but insisted this should not be an excuse to undermine the safety and quality of the products thereby endangering the lives of consumers in the process.
NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made the disclosure at the weekend during a stakeholders’ meeting with the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter, where she insisted that the agency would not compromise the quality of bread, a staple food amongst Nigerians, being produced for the consumers.
Adeyeye, who was represented at the programme by the Director, Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FSAN), Mrs Eva Edwards, urged the bakers to be confident to give their family members to eat from what they have produced for the Nigerian consumers. By doing this, she said they would not want to produce what will make them or their family members sick if eaten. She also warned them to avoid using expired raw materials and contaminated packaging materials and embrace a food safety culture in their activities.
According to the DG, good hygiene practices must be strictly adhered to from the beginning to the end of the production process, stressing that the finished products should not be exposed to the ravaging onslaught of rats and other pests in the Lagos metropolis.
‘’Food raw materials/ingredients that are not properly sealed, compromised packaging, infested by rodents or their droppings and not adequately labelled should not be used’’, she further warned, adding that storage and handling of food ingredients/raw materials should be such that mix-up and cross contamination are avoided.
‘’Detergents, disinfectants, engine oil/lubricants should be kept away from food raw materials’’, she said, adding that If the bakers’ operations will endanger the health of the public, then the Agency will not hesitate to take decisive action. She added that as a responsive Agency, NAFDAC is prepared to support their businesses to survive and thrive.
She further stressed that production facilities should not be sited in locations that can compromise the safety and quality of the finished products, such as near a cemetery or directly opposite a toilet or soakaway, stating that there is no way the Agency would stand aloof while the health of the public is being put at a risk.
“GHP in food facilities cover all stages of the process, starting from the planning stage for the location of the factory. Food facility should not be located in an area that is close to source(s) of contamination or prone to flooding’’, she said. She added that the material of the equipment should be impervious and not erode or react with the food during processing. ‘’They should be properly installed and arranged to enable easy cleaning of the immediate surrounding and allow for free movement of personnel.
She also maintained that vehicles used for transportation of chemicals, or any hazardous materials should not be used to transport bread, adding that the finished products should be adequately covered and protected from contamination while in transit.
According to her, medical tests should be conducted periodically to ensure personnel do not harbor any diseases that could be transmitted through food, stressing that food handlers are also not expected to work with open wounds; ‘’and when they are ill, they should be excused from work’’.
She said the principles of food safety and Good Hygiene Practices should be adopted and maintained in any food production or processing facility.
She emphasized that it is imperative to ensure the wholesomeness of the raw materials/ingredients and the process of food production to consistently have wholesome end products.
The NAFDAC boss also advised the Master Bakers on the need for proper labelling of their products. She said this includes listing the ingredients contained in the finished products in order of predominance by weight. In other words, she said the ingredients that weigh the most are listed first. She emphasized the importance of indicating date markings on the labels so that the consumer is informed about when the product was produced and the ‘best before’ date to guide them accordingly.
The Acting Chairman of the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter, Mr Matthew Ayoola, commended the initiative of NAFDAC by engaging his members on the way forward with their businesses.
He pledged that his members would use the knowledge imparted to them at the engagement to further enhance the quality of their products in the State. He however, disclosed that his Association had set up a task force with a view to bringing forward any recalcitrant members to NAFDAC for necessary guidance towards compliance with the regulations, and sanctions as deemed necessary by the agency.