The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has apprehended suspected merchants of dangerous chemicals used in food and drinks, supposedly to enhance taste.
The substance killed three people in Kano.The three died after consuming adulterated flavoured drinks.
The Director General of NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye, made this known in a statement issued by the NAFDAC resident media consultant, Olusayo Akintola, on Sunday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that three people died in Kano in March after consuming flavored drinks allegedly containing the chemical additives.
The NAFDAC chief, therefore, warned against adding chemicals or additives to food and drinks to enhance taste, stressing that such practice could result in severe illness and even death.
Mrs Adeyeye said the agency would stop at nothing to ensure that only safe food and other regulated products were available in the market for consumption and use.
She said she submitted the preliminary result of the agency’s investigation of the victims to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State during her two-day visit to the state to assess the incident.
“It was heart-warming that merchants of the deadly chemicals and additives had been apprehended while further investigation continues,” Mrs Adeyeye said.
According to her, “when dangerous foreign elements find their way into foods and water, it becomes poisonous rather than being nutritious.”
She said food contamination and poisoning could occur through consuming expired food or preparing food with poorly sourced water and putting cooked food on the shelf for several days or months.
“We are very particular about food additives, about the temperature at which food can be kept, or about the expiration date of food. If all of these are violated, then there can be food poisoning.
“Whether it is 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.“NAFDAC is now working assiduously in partnership with the Kano State Government with a view to preventing recurrence of the March 11 incident.”
Mrs Adeyeye added that the agency would be working with the Kano State Task force under the Federal Task Force on Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods, as well as the Consumers Protection Agency in Kano to check the menace.
She recalled that shortly after the news of the deaths was received, “six directorates of the agency swung into action to unravel the mystery behind the sad event and found that only two of the five flavoured drinks identified in the incident were registered by NAFDAC.”
She said the three others were not in the agency’s database.
She said that samples of the chemicals and additives that were added while preparing the flavoured drinks were then collected and taken to NAFDAC’s laboratory in Kaduna for testing and further testing was conducted at the agency’s central laboratory in Lagos for confirmation.
According to her, “any food that is unregistered is not guaranteed by NAFDAC and that it can be unwholesome or fake food or that such food is smuggled into the country”.
“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 is 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,” she said.
Mrs Adeyeye said the Pharmacovigilance Directorate of the agency had sent an alert to all the 36 state offices of NAFDAC and the FCT to mount surveillance on unregistered products and mop them up.
According to her, “before any chemical can be legally imported into Nigeria, full authorisation and permit must be obtained from NAFDAC to ensure that no dangerous chemicals are imported.”
She noted that “NAFDAC does end-to-end monitoring for all chemicals and requests for distribution and utilisation patterns before giving importers permits to import chemicals.”
She said the agency also monitored the person such chemicals were being sold to in the sellers report, adding that “all these must be clarified to NAFDAC before approval is given.”
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