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How Food vendors are killing Nigerians with chemicals – Prof Alo

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The rampant cases of the use of hazardous chemicals by some food vendors in the country for the preparations, preservation and applications on raw and cooked foods has become a major source of health concern to the Federal goverment, the public and the health sector.

Speaking in an interview with newsmen on Tuesday during  the recent Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of PCBs workshop in Calabar, Prof. Babajide Alo, a Consultant to the Federal Ministry of Environment, disclosed that food vendors are using PolyChlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs), popularly known as transformer oil, in frying “Akara” (bean cake), plantain chips, chicken and other food items.

The workshop was organised for state councils, regulatory bodies, power operators and customs officers on application of PCBs regulations and guidelines for Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of PCBs.

He said the Federal government is concerned and making plans to prosecute food vendors found to be using PolyChlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs).

Professor Babajide Alo, who is a globally acclaimed expert in the management of environmental issues, was a professor of chemistry at the University of Lagos until his retirement after the honour of being Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, raised very worrisome concerns that the consumption of food prepared from the chemical substance will expose the public to cancers of the lungs, heart, kidney and liver diseases.

The consultant added that the unsuspecting public were being deceived by the likeness of the oil to the commonly used groundnut oil.

PolyChlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs).was the cooling liquid used in electricity transformers, until it was found out that this oil was toxic, and is it being phased out. He said, the discarded oil, “We found out that it is all over the place in Nigeria, in dump sites, and an old National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) compounds,”.

Prof. Alo, said a survey carried out by the ministry revealed that PCBs is currently being used by some food vendors, by mixing it with groundnut oil to fry foods like Akara, chicken and plantain chips at roadsides to sell to the ignorant public, who daily consume these foods fried with this chemical oil that is toxic and carcinogenic, threatening jail term for those caught using PCBs.

The food vendors, may not know how hazardous what they are doing, which is the objective of the workshop to sensitise policymakers and everyone of this malaise.

“It is important to note that spillage of PCBs is always a danger when equipment is to be transported; it should, therefore, be transported only in sealed containers,” he said.

It would be recalled, that there has been recent alarming reports and concerns over the indiscrinate use of certain chemicals in grain preservation against insects. One of such chemicals used to preserve beans, is Dichlorvos, marketed in Nigeria with the brand name Sniper.

‘Dichlorvos (2,2-dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate, commonly abbreviated as an DDVP, is an organophosphate widely used as an insecticide to control household pests, in public health, and protecting stored products from insects.

The compound has been commercially available since 1961 and has become controversial because of its prevalence in urban waterways and the fact that its toxicity extends well beyond insects. The insecticide has been banned in EU since 1998’ Wikipedia. Sniper is not safe and has been removed from WHO approved list of public health insecticides.

The use of Calcium Carbide gas, has also been reported to be increasingly used to rippen plantains and Bananas. The reaction of calcium carbide (CaC2) with water (H2O), produces Acetylene (C2H2), the world’s most efficient hottest burning standard welding gas. It has also been reported that, a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite, used on fabrics as bleach, in the process of making fermented cassava dough for Akpu or Fufu; a popular Nigerian swallow food.

Grocers have equally been noted to be indulged in the use of certain toxic chemicals, for ripening or refreshing fruits like Oranges and vegetables, including soaking in drains with stagnant black toxic waste water.

Another chemical, Formaldehyde, (formalin), commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories, is now being applied on meats, chicken/turkey, etc., as a preservative by sellers.

The indiscriminate use of toxic chemicals on foods has been reported to compromise the health of the ignorant public that patronized numerous roadside canteens, grocers, and grain/cereal sellers, that indulge in this practice.

It is advised that those who patronize food vendors, be mindful of what and where they buy cooked foods, vegetables, fruits, meat, cereals, among others. It is best to buy matured unripe plantains and Bananas, instead of ripe ones. The public should be cautious to patronage only food vendors that do not indulge in the use of dangerous chemicals on their food items or foods processing of fermentation, frying, as condiments or additives. How Food vendors are killing Nigerians with chemicals – Prof Alo

 

The rampant cases of the use of hazardous chemicals by some food vendors in the country for the preparations, preservation and applications on raw and cooked foods has become a major source of health concern to the Federal goverment, the public and the health sector.

 

Speaking in an interview with newsmen on Tuesday during  the recent Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of PCBs workshop in Calabar, Prof. Babajide Alo, a Consultant to the Federal Ministry of Environment, disclosed that food vendors are using PolyChlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs), popularly known as transformer oil, in frying “Akara” (bean cake), plantain chips, chicken and other food items.

 

The workshop was organised for state councils, regulatory bodies, power operators and customs officers on application of PCBs regulations and guidelines for Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of PCBs.

 

He said the Federal government is concerned and making plans to prosecute food vendors found to be using PolyChlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs).

 

Professor Babajide Alo, who is a globally acclaimed expert in the management of environmental issues, was a professor of chemistry at the University of Lagos until his retirement after the honour of being Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, raised very worrisome concerns that the consumption of food prepared from the chemical substance will expose the public to cancers of the lungs, heart, kidney and liver diseases.

 

The consultant added that the unsuspecting public were being deceived by the likeness of the oil to the commonly used groundnut oil.

 

PolyChlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs).was the cooling liquid used in electricity transformers, until it was found out that this oil was toxic, and is it being phased out. He said, the discarded oil, “We found out that it is all over the place in Nigeria, in dump sites, and an old National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) compounds,”.

 

Prof. Alo, said a survey carried out by the ministry revealed that PCBs is currently being used by some food vendors, by mixing it with groundnut oil to fry foods like Akara, chicken and plantain chips at roadsides to sell to the ignorant public, who daily consume these foods fried with this chemical oil that is toxic and carcinogenic, threatening jail term for those caught using PCBs.

 

The food vendors, may not know how hazardous what they are doing, which is the objective of the workshop to sensitise policymakers and everyone of this malaise.

 

“It is important to note that spillage of PCBs is always a danger when equipment is to be transported; it should, therefore, be transported only in sealed containers,” he said.

 

It would be recalled, that there has been recent alarming reports and concerns over the indiscrinate use of certain chemicals in grain preservation against insects. One of such chemicals used to preserve beans, is Dichlorvos, marketed in Nigeria with the brand name Sniper.

 

‘Dichlorvos (2,2-dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate, commonly abbreviated as an DDVP, is an organophosphate widely used as an insecticide to control household pests, in public health, and protecting stored products from insects.

 

The compound has been commercially available since 1961 and has become controversial because of its prevalence in urban waterways and the fact that its toxicity extends well beyond insects. The insecticide has been banned in EU since 1998’ Wikipedia. Sniper is not safe and has been removed from WHO approved list of public health insecticides.

 

The use of Calcium Carbide gas, has also been reported to be increasingly used to rippen plantains and Bananas. The reaction of calcium carbide (CaC2) with water (H2O), produces Acetylene (C2H2), the world’s most efficient hottest burning standard welding gas. It has also been reported that, a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite, used on fabrics as bleach, in the process of making fermented cassava dough for Akpu or Fufu; a popular Nigerian swallow food.

 

Grocers have equally been noted to be indulged in the use of certain toxic chemicals, for ripening or refreshing fruits like Oranges and vegetables, including soaking in drains with stagnant black toxic waste water.

 

Another chemical, Formaldehyde, (formalin), commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories, is now being applied on meats, chicken/turkey, etc., as a preservative by sellers.

 

The indiscriminate use of toxic chemicals on foods has been reported to compromise the health of the ignorant public that patronized numerous roadside canteens, grocers, and grain/cereal sellers, that indulge in this practice.

 

It is advised that those who patronize food vendors, be mindful of what and where they buy cooked foods, vegetables, fruits, meat, cereals, among others. It is best to buy matured unripe plantains and Bananas, instead of ripe ones. The public should be cautious to patronage only food vendors that do not indulge in the use of dangerous chemicals on their food items or foods processing of fermentation, frying, as condiments or additives.

 

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